Geneva conference row a non-issue

Monday July 17, 2017 Published in Letters to the Editor

Ever wondered how it is that two people can look at a glass of water and both come to two different conclusions as to whether it is half empty or half full.


The Symes-Buchanan piece regarding the government being censured on the non-attendance of CIWA and Chamber of Commerce as members of the tripartite with government on the recent ILO conference in Geneva is a case in point.

On the face of it there is an implication that government got the big censureship from the ILO for two members of the tripartite not attending and some would say, “hold on, maybe there’s more to this than the article alleges”.

I submit that the truth actually lies half way between what Chamber and CIWA want you to believe and what actually transpired. The two members of the tripartite: Chamber and CIWA are technically supposed to be representative of business and unions in the Cook Islands. However, if Chamber only represents 10 per cent of the businesses in the country and CIWA have long ago lost their effectiveness in representing the interests of all affiliated unions, how is it that they can sit on the tripartite with government.

In effect, they are sitting with government by proxy and one I don’t think has the blessing of all businesses and all union members. So if we take that to its logical conclusion the Symes-Buchanan article is a non-issue and just words from disgruntled people who do not represent all the interests of their respective areas.

So let’s say hypothetically that Chamber and CIWA both have a vested interest in dishing it to Govt, let’s also say that they have sympathetic eyes and ears out there, and let’s further say that they would be looking for opportunities (not just any opportunity) to take advantage of any perceived chink in government’s demeanour.

Their non-attendance at the ILO conference in Geneva would have been like mana from heaven as they met with their respective members and immediately swung into grievance mode and payback time.

Looking at the page two rebuttal from Thondoo of the Ministry of Internal Affairs it seems that Chamber and CIWA have caused an injustice to government’s handling of this whole scenario, which they would have you believe is all government’s fault. I submit that the government’s explanation has fallen on deaf ears and that sympathisers have decided the government are the bad guys rather than the fact that both CIWA and Chamber have been less than circumspect in terms of their non-attendance in Geneva.

If they were so interested in going to Geneva then they should have paid their own way, as I believe they were asked to look at alternate funding to get there. They declined, despite the Chamber and CIWA getting tens of thousands of dollars in membership fees from their members each year.

Where is this money going, how is it that there is little or no capacity development for their members and who is benefitting?

Seeing as how both CIWA and Chamber have so much negative time and energy on their hands to dish it to government, maybe both of those parties should look at how they can turn that time and energy into a positive.

One way is by helping to support government in its endeavours for the country rather than looking at what they can wring personally from the tripartite relationship.

It is not about furthering their own aims and agendas through perpetuating a one-eyed falsehood, it is about what you can do for your country.


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