The Fiji Labour Party says, amendments to the Employment Relations Promulgation passed by Parliament yesterday will legalise the breach of employment contract by Fiji Airways terminating 758 workers on Monday.
Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry says the legislation has been passed mainly to save Fiji Airways’ back.
Chaudhry explains the Fiji Airways Flight Attendants union had stated its intention to take legal action at the manner in which some 475 of its members were terminated on 25 May in breach of their collective agreement.
This, Chaudhry says is meant to frustrate court action by the Flight Attendants’ union in this particular case and it is also designed to pre-empt action by any other union whose members are similarly mal-treated.
Chaudhry says it is dangerous as it paves the way for employers to terminate workers willy nilly under the guise of the COVID-19 crisis but prevents unions from taking legal action to protect their workers’ rights.
He warned, however, that the legislation could not be used retrospectively, or backdated.
Yesterday’s amendment to the 2007 Act does not specify an effective date for the changes but leaves it to the discretion of the Minister.
Mr Chaudhry was critical of the amendment to Section 24 which categorizes the COVID-19 pandemic as an act of God adding how can a man-made disaster be attributed to God?