7 Aug 2002

Fiji unionists say employers who ill-treat should be jailed

5:24 pm on 7 August 2002

Fiji's trade unions are calling for legislation with provisions to jail employers who ill-treat and intimidate their workers.

According to trade unions, ill-treatment of workers is a major cause of instability in the country and results in strikes.

The call follows threats by the Government to bring in legislation to deregister trade unionns and jail their executives if they call illegal strikes.

The secretary of the National Union of Hospitality, Catering and Tourism Employees, Timoci Naivaluwaqa, says the Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, finds it convenient to blame unions for the problems of the nation, including what happened after the May 2000 coup.

Mr Naivaluwaqa says it was the trade union movement that stuck its neck out after the coup and called for the restoration of democracy and the constitution.

He says instead of blaming unions, Mr Qarase should place emphasis on respect for the law and the elimination of exploitation in indigenous communities by investors.