The Mediation Unit of the Ministry of Labour has been commended for achieving outstanding results in the quick resolution of disputes between employers and employees.
Fiji Court of Appeal president, Justice William Calanchini made these comments at the third module mediation and accreditation training by the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC) for inspectorate staff of the Labour Ministry in Suva this week.
Since establishment in 2008, the Mediation Unit has successfully resolved an average of 81.47 per cent of cases annually which reflects most favorably when compared with the international standard of 75 per cent measured against the SMC.
Justice Calanchini said mediation allows for a swift resolution enabling parties to get on with their lives.
“Mediation provides the parties with the possibility of a resolution that they have mutually agreed to rather than a solution imposed by a third party decision maker,” Justice Calanchini said.
He highlighted that Fiji is indeed fortunate to have its future mediators being trained and guided by two highly qualified and experienced mediators and trainers from the SMC.
As a former permanent arbitrator and Employment Relations Tribunal chief, Justice Calanchini said that the Mediation Unit within the Ministry of Labour was established under the ERP 2007 and it is the primary problem solving mechanism under the legislation.
“Because of its effectiveness, its simplicity and efficiency, its promptness and the lack of expense, there has been an ever increasing number of workers choosing to refer their grievances to the Mediation Unit rather than referring the dispute to their union for adjudication before the Employment Relations Tribunal.”
Justice Calanchini added that the advantages of mediation are well known to those who practice it.
“Mediation is invariably less expensive than litigation or arbitration. Litigation can take years to wind its way through the courts and the appellate processes.
“Mediation provides a timely way of settling a dispute. The dispute does not linger over the lives of litigants causing anxiety and worry,” Justice Calanchini pointed out.
He further added that that one of the genuine and significant advantages of a mediated settlement is the role it played in maintaining a peaceful and harmonious working relationship between the parties.
Meanwhile, Justice Calanchini urged the 24 trainees to take full advantage of the training and congratulated the Labour Ministry for being at the forefront of the mediation movement in Fiji.