AWARENESS SESSIONS VITAL FOR BETTER UNDER UNDERSTANDING OF ELECTORAL PROCESS FOR TRADE UNION ELECTIONS
The Fijian Elections Office [FEO] has started conducting interactive Awareness Sessions for Trade Unions and respective employers on Trade Union Elections and electoral best practices across Fiji from 29th May to 2nd June 2017.
Awareness sessions as such are vital as it provides union members, executives, employers and employees a better understanding of the guidelines and processes of elections.
The Guidelines for Trade Union Election, which was released in 2014, aims to create a fair, transparent and credible electoral process whilst preserving the autonomous nature of trade unions.
Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem said the FEO has been organizing Trade Union Elections for the past two and a half years and managed to identify gaps in the electoral process which would need to be highlighted and resolved.
Since last year, the FEO also invites employers of respective Trade Union members to the awareness sessions.
“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,” he said.
“Also, Trade unions are advised to frequently send alerts and update their members on trade union election timelines to enhance voter participation during the electoral process.”
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 that the FEO implements.
The FEO has identified some key issues it hopes to address in the interactive awareness sessions:
- Poor turnout from Trade Unions and Employers,
- The importance of the strict election timelines which has to be adhered to in any electoral process;
- The unions to create awareness on the electoral processes in place to its members to enhance voter participation;
- The importance of updating of the union’s membership listings by the unions before submitting it to the FEO;
- To maximise voter participation, the FEO believes that the best solution is postal voting as it caters for branches that are in remote areas.
“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.
Meanwhile, the FEO has upgraded its equipment in a bid to make the voting and counting process easier.
“The FEO has secured 50 electronic voting machines that will be used for trade union elections; and the FEO has also secured counting machines that will enable voters to vote and also automatically count the votes,” Saneem said.
To date, the FEO has organized more than 80 Trade Union elections and 120 branch level elections.
An awareness session was held in Labasa on 29th May while two were held in Suva on 30th and 31st May.
The next session is currently underway in Lautoka today (June 1) and will conclude tomorrow at the Tanoa Waterfront Hotel.
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