Labour meeting ends in walkout

Saturday May 04, 2019 Written by Published in National

President of the Cook Islands Workers Association (CIWA) Tuaine Maunga and member John Tini walked out of the quarterly tripartite meeting of the National Labour Advisory Board (NLAB) on Friday morning.

 

Both claim they faced discrimination at the meeting, after Tini was not allowed to be present.

Their complaint has been strongly refuted by chairperson and secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Anne Herman.

Maunga says as a worker and the president of CIWA, he had asked Tini to accompany him.

“What happened today (yesterday), we had just begun the meeting when Tini arrived. I had invited him along as a member of CIWA. The chair and secretary of INTAFF asked us to chat outside. We were then informed Tini was not allowed in the meeting,” Maunga said.

“The issue is, why aren’t CIWA members allowed in? Workers’ rights and representation at a national level was denied.

“We as CIWA walked out of the meeting, I voiced my concern that there was no quorum in the meeting.”

The quarterly NLAB meeting included overseas occupational health and safety (OSH) consultants, who were present to update and discuss direction for the final draft of the OSH policy.

Maunga alleged that the meeting was illegal because workers (CIWA) were not represented and there was no quorum.

He said that they would lodge a complaint on the legitimacy of the meeting with the minister concerned (Mac Mokoroa).

“Because the fundamental representation and rights of workers at national level has been denied,” he added.

Herman says the claims are not valid and accused Tini of using ‘aggressive and bullying tactics’.

 “Mr John Tini is not a warranted board member, therefore is not entitled to join the board meeting, nor did he apply for approval to attend the board meeting,” Herman said. 

“CIWA have three warranted members – however very often only one attended, the Chamber of Commerce diligently had three members represented.

“We were to have returned the decision to the NLAB to decide if they would allow an unwarranted member – however CIWA abruptly and aggressively decided to walk out instead, issuing threats to the chair.”

Responding to CIWA’s claims on not having a quorum, Herman said the meeting was closed after an explanation to the board on what had just occurred.

“I made this clear to CIWA as they walked out, this is also reflected in our minutes of the meeting.  As the chair, I now have to reschedule another meeting in the next 14 days because of the lack of a quorum. Not following simple terms of reference and code of conduct of this important and unique platform is demonstrating poor social dialogue skills and willingness.”

Herman says the workers union has a very important role to play in the tripartite, adding the CIWA will now have to decide if it would like to continue to serve in this role as the workers’ representative.

“Their poor display this morning (yesterday) is not reflective of the spirit of tripartite, of working together. The rules they bend are the rules they themselves developed,” she said.

“As chair it is my role to ensure that these meetings run in accordance with these rules, which is precisely what I did.”

Herman also said CIWA would be receiving a letter from her for the breach of the terms of reference and the code of conduct.

“It is not the first time that this non-warranted member John Tini has disrupted the work of NLAB, with such aggressive and bullying tactics, in stark contradiction with our code of conduct. It is not only my responsibility as chair but also the role of the president of CIWA to ensure that his members abide by the rules of the board.”

“Therefore, it is the responsibility of all three social partners to work together in collaboration to influence the formulation of labour related policies and legislation that would encompass the interests of both workers and employers.”

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