23 May 2003

Tension grows between Fiji labour minister and FTUC

10:52 am on 23 May 2003

Tension is escalating between the Fiji Trades Union Congress and the labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, following retaliatory action by him.

The TUC has told the minister it will boycott next month's meeting of the Tripartite Forum comprising employers, unions and the government.

Mr Zinck has retaliated by cancelling the TUC president Daniel Urai's attendance at the Geneva meeting of the International Labour Organisation as part of the Fiji delegation.

Mr Zinck has now diverted government funds from Mr Urai to Attar Singh, the secretary of the TUC's rival body, the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions.

The TUC has been objecting to the presence of representatives from its rival body on the Tripartite Forum.

Mr Zinck says representatives of both union bodies work on other boards and committees and the boycott of the Tripartite Forum must be political.

But the TUC secretary, Felix Anthony, says he has communicated with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and Mr Zinck and his choices will not be allowed into the ILO meeting in Geneva because they will have to face the credentials committee.

Mr Anthony says the TUC has 30 affiliates and is the most representative body of unions and workers in Fiji, and it should represent them at international meetings.