Fiji Trades Union Congress National Secretary Felix Anthony is sending a strong message to the government saying the pandemic is manmade, and China is not located in heaven.
Anthony's statement comes following parliament passing the Employment Relations Bill that allows employers to let go of their workers if they cannot provide work due to an act of God which includes COVID-19 – as the definition of an act of God in the passed bill now also includes a pandemic declared by the World Health Organisation.
He says the lockdowns were imposed by Governments, not God.
Anthony says the Government has moved to assist businesses with a reduction in FNPF contributions and other tax incentives, and now the reduction of Paternity and Family Care leave, and finally decided to blame God for the pandemic.
He says this is outrageous.
Anthony says they note that Governments while doing all for employers has done absolutely nothing for workers.
He also says that no obligation is placed on employers for all the concessions that are being given to them.
Anthony adds that it is no justification to terminate workers just because other airlines or employers have done so.
He further says that the difference is that workers who are terminated abroad are assisted by their Governments and have social safety nets like unemployment benefits or special stimulus packages for workers who have lost their jobs. Anthony says they see nothing of that sort here in Fiji so, let’s compare apples with apples.
The FTUC National Secretary adds that the loss of jobs at Fiji Airways and many other major employers is causing great hardship to thousands of families around the country.
He says many have ongoing financial commitments for housing, rents, motor vehicles, hire purchase, utility bills, and everyday food bills.
Anthony stresses that these are the realities that workers and their families have to face.
He adds that they understand the current pandemic crisis affects all businesses however, there does not appear to be a similar understanding of the workers’ plight.
Anthony says the Fiji Airways terminations send a very wrong signal to other employers who think now they can terminate workers overnight without any further obligation.
He adds that the government’s sanctioning of such behavior is worrying, to say the least.
Anthony says no one disputes the challenges that Fiji Airways faces but what is abhorrent is how they have terminated workers.
He says there was absolutely no dignity accorded to workers and least of all total lack of good faith despite telling the world that Fiji Airways employees were one happy family.
Anthony says the family has been tossed out the window.
He says this is simply shameful behavior.
Anthony adds that it is becoming clear that Fiji Airways wishes to do away with the union and start afresh with individual contracts, reduced wages and salaries, and benefits.
He says many employers likewise have done extremely well over the past decade posting huge profits and expanding their businesses but found themselves on their knees when the lockdown occurred.
Anthony says surprisingly, they wish to make us believe that their balance sheet was not as strong as they appeared to be.
He adds this crisis has really shown that many (not all) businesses have absolutely no loyalty or commitment to their employees.
Anthony says this is a clear message to all workers in Fiji.
He says they have demonstrated that there is no such thing as corporate social responsibility in their policies.
Fiji Airways has said it appreciates the impact of the announcement on their colleagues who have regrettably had their employment terminated.
Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO Andre Viljoen says this was an extremely difficult decision, and one that was made only after all other avenues were exhausted, in order to ensure Fiji Airways’ survival.
Viljoen adds Fiji Airways is in the same position as most other airlines, having to pay recurrent fixed costs, but earning next to zero revenue.
He stresses that in the circumstances, it was simply not sustainable for the company to continue to pay salaries to employees who are not working.
Viljoen further says today’s terminations were based upon the company’s inability to provide work to affected employees; this was not a restructuring or redundancy process.
He adds all Fiji Airways employees have been regularly updated on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the company, and the need for increasingly drastic actions if the situation did not improve.
Viljoen says all applicable laws were adhered to.
He adds that this is a sad day for the company, and their thoughts are with their colleagues who, like many people around the world, have lost their jobs as a consequence of this unprecedented global pandemic.
Source : https://www.fijivillage.com/…/FTUC-to-Govt-Pandemic-is-man…/