CIWA responds to claims from Internal Affairs

Friday May 17, 2019 Published in Letters to the Editor
CIWA president Tuaine Maunga. 19051654 CIWA president Tuaine Maunga. 19051654

Dear Editor

This is in response to your report on Tuesday  May 7 about Cook Islands Workers Association representatives (CIWA) walking out of the meeting with Internal Affairs.


Obviously, Intaff secretary Anne Herman has no knowledge at all of how non-government organisations (NGO) or civil society organisation (CSO) work, or zero experience  of the voluntary work of these organisations which her department should be embracing because they are community organisations which come under the umbrella of the ministry. These organisations are grassroots entities who fund themselves mostly doing voluntary work to achieve their own purposes, whereas Intaff is sitting and enjoying the luxuries of taxpayer funding.

CIWA is a non-government organisation or civil society organisation which is also grassroots oriented without any reliance on government budgets. Whatever they do is based on the availability of resources of their own and should not  be dictated by Intaff on how it should be doing its work.

The tripartite meeting is an ILO initiative for all member countries in the world, and in our case Intaff is mandated to co-ordinate employers and employee organisations such as the Chamber and CIWA. 

In regards to the  CIWA rep being rejected from the tripartite meeting by the Intaff HOM  this brings disgrace to the Tripartite Committee. Because of that unfair decision made by the chair, the president of CIWA walked out of the meeting rendering the meeting invalid because of no quorum.   There were inconsistencies in the procedure of the meeting and the rules seemed to be applied heavily only upon CIWA when other substitutes in the meeting created no problem at all. 

The fact of the rejection was based on a previous incident when CIWA raised an issue in the Tripartite Workshop last year, concerning two foreign workers (young Fijian girls) being turned away by the Labour Division of Intaff when the pair went there to seek help.

The CIWA rep John Tini tried to help these foreign workers.

CIWA reps in the workshop were very disappointed with the Labour Division of Intaff in what they did to these workers.  This is not the first time this has happened. These girls left the country without any help from them. The health of Internal Affairs has been badly eroded by poor management skills and performance.

Last year, a senior female staff member with over 20 years’ service was sacked from the same office and CIWA tried to compromise on the issue but to no avail. Another dedicated staff member from the same office was discriminated against and harassed by the same office, and lately, from the same office, the president of CIWA was unfairly sacked from the Tripartite Committee. An officer who holds the mandate of the ILO and who enforces the Employment Relations Act (ERA) had brought grievous disgrace to the Tripartite Committee, this country and the ILO community as well.

All these events above are totally in breach of the ILO conventions and the provisions of the ERA.

The turning away and sacking  of one foreign worker affects all workers, foreign workers included, and all families. 

Who is going to investigate the culprit when the culprit is the enforcer?

Tuaine Maunga


Cook Islands Workers Asociation

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