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Thank you, Chair.
I am speaking on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Albania[*] as well as the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
We are committed to the promotion of universal ratification and implementation of the eight fundamental Conventions as part of our Strategic Framework on Human Rights. We call on all countries to protect, promote and respect all human rights and labour rights and we attach the highest importance to freedom of association and right to organize. Compliance with ILO Conventions 87 and 98 is essential in this respect.
As signatories to the Cotonou agreement, the EU and Fiji have engaged in a comprehensive, balanced and deep political dialogue, covering human rights, including labour rights, as a pre‑condition for sustainable development, growth and poverty reduction. The 4th enhanced EU Fiji High‑level Political Dialogue under Article 8 of the Agreement on 20th May reiterated the centrality of promotion of access to justice and respect to human rights. Fiji and the EU also cooperate through the Economic Partnership agreement applied since July 2014 which commits parties to supporting social rights.
We note with regret the observations of the Committee report on Fiji's implementation of the fundamental ILO Convention 87. It is particularly worrying to see lack of progress in implementation of the Joint Implementation Report (JIR) signed by national tripartite partners in January 2016 to avert establishment of the Commission of Inquiry. We also express deep concern over allegedly continuing harassment and intimidation of trade unionists, as well as violations of fundamental human rights. We urge the Government to provide the updated information in this regard.
We also note with regret that the Employment Relations Advisory Board (ERAB) established to review the labour laws as agreed under the JIR has not created an environment conducive to dialogue and trust between employers, workers and governments. In view of Committee's observations, we urge the government, in line with ILO Convention 87, to fully recognise the role of representative national workers’ and employers’ organizations in determining representatives on national bodies, such as ERAB and to refrain from any interference in this process.
We also note with regret that we have seen no progress on the legislative changes required to bring the legislation into conformity with convention 87 as agreed in the JIR, including the labour legislation, as well as the Employment Relations (Amendment) Act 2016, the latter in particular in relation to excessively wide discretionary power of the Registrar and the denial of right to organize to prison guards.
Similarly, as agreed in the JIR, we note with disappointment that the Government has not taken measures to review numerous provisions of the Employment Relations Promulgation (ERP). Revision of the list of essential services developed under ERP, has still not been determined in an way agreed in JIR, delay which is surprising given the possibility of the ILO's technical assistance. We call on the government to take all the necessary measures to review the abovementioned provisions of the ERP, in accordance with the agreement in the JIR and in tripartite manner so as to bring the legislation into full conformity with the Convention 87.
We also note with regret that the application of Public Order (Amendment) Decree (POAD) with regard to free exercise of the right to assembly is not in line with the ILO Convention 87. We therefore urge the government to take the necessary measures to bring section 8 of POAD into line with the Convention.
We also draw the attention of the government that, as indicated by the Committee, the provisions of the Political Parties Decree are unduly restrictive in prohibiting membership in a political party or any expression of political support or opposition by officers of workers and employers’ organizations. We request the government to take measures to amend, in a tripartite manner, the above provisions.
The EU and its Member States will continue to support Fiji in these endeavours.
Thank you, Chair.
[*] The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.