The Fijian Elections Office [FEO] will conduct interactive Awareness Sessions for Trade Unions and respective employers on Trade Union Elections and electoral best practices across Fiji from 26 to 28 September 2016.

Guidelines for Trade Union Election, which was released in November 2014, aims to create a fair, transparent and credible electoral process whilst preserving the autonomous nature of trade unions.

“We have been successfully organizing Trade Union Elections based on our guideline for the past two years nearly and we have identified gaps in electoral practices of Trade Unions that we feel need to be highlighted and resolved,” said Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem.

This years sessions also include invitations to employers of respective Trade Union members.

“The idea is to ensure that all stakeholders are fully aware of the requirements and the processes in Trade Union elections and employing agencies are one of the key stakeholders. In fact, employing agencies, especially their Human Resources teams play very critical roles during membership verification exercise”.

The FEO has this time, also opened the forum for attendance by general members of Trade Unions who may wish to learn about the electoral process the FEO implements.

The FEO has to date organized 42 Trade Union elections and 100 branch level elections.

The FEO has identified 4 key issues that it hopes to address in the interactive awareness sessions:

1.         Lack of accurate and systematic recording of members of Unions. This eventually results in teething issues at the stage of voter list production. In one instance, the variation was an inflation of the membership listing by approximately 800;

2.         Laxity in updating records at Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial   Relations and the poor enforcement of the requirements of the ERP by the Registrar of Trade Unions. FEO has been advised that annual audited reports of several unions are not provided to the Ministry at the required time every year. Sadly, the Registrar has not exercised enforcement powers to ensure due compliance;

3.         Impractical electoral models that skew towards certain interests, and

4.         Difficult requirements imposed on potential new candidates.

“The FEO continues to advocate for improvements in the record keeping in terms of Union Membership and we are proposing that the FEO is given the responsibility to maintain this record independently. I encourage administrators and union members as well as employers to attend these sessions as this is also an opportune time for them to raise queries regarding electoral processes and guidelines,” Saneem said.

Interested persons are requested to register their interest to attend any of the sessions with the Industrial Elections Team of the FEO via email: aisea.wainiqolo@feo.org.fj or arieta.ranadinivuna@feo.org.fj or phone 3316 225.