Systematic violations of rights

Same as last year

Workers' rights violations

Right to free speech and assembly

The Fijian police denied the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) a permit to march and hold a rally in Suva on 1st May 2021. No reason was given in writing, but the FTUC was told verbally that there was concern about the COVID-19 pandemic. No restrictions were being applied to other gatherings, such as sports and recreational activities, however.

This was the sixth year in a row that a permit to march was denied to the FTUC. Despite the government’s repeated assurances to the ILO and the UN Human Rights Council of its full respect for workers’ and human rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, it seemingly had no intention of honouring its commitments.

Workers excluded from labour protections

In 2021, Goundar Shipping, a major Fijian ferry company, sacked three Filipino seafarers after they said they wanted to take leave to speak to union representatives about their rights and how they could get home. They were among a group of more than 20 Filipino seafarers brought to Fiji to operate and maintain its fleet of passenger and cargo ferries. They were given promises of decent wages and conditions. When they arrived, the company informed the seafarers that they would be paid 60-70 per cent less than what they were promised.

With many of the seafarers unable to afford return tickets, they agreed to stay on with the company and were given fresh promises of repatriation following an additional year of work. The company then said that flights and quarantine costs were too expensive due to Covid and refused to honour its obligations to get the seafarers home. The seafarers had lodged official complaints with the Fijian authorities in September 2020, December 2020 and January 2021 to no avail.

Working in harsh conditions and isolated for months on ships, migrant seafarers are among the most vulnerable categories of workers and often do not have access to unions.

Right to collective bargaining

In June 2021, the minister for local government announced that some councils were struggling financially. Her solution was to undermine the conditions agreed in their collective agreements and unilaterally impose fixed-term contracts on council workers with lesser salaries and benefits. The Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) strongly denounced this unilateral move.

Workers’ rights in law

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