8 Aug 2007

Fiji army told to stay away from unionists

10:32 am on 8 August 2007

A leading Fiji garment manufacturer has called on the military not to interfere with trade union leaders involved in nationwide strikes.

Mark Halabe has warned that the response to the arrest and harassment of any union leader from the international trade union movement could be far worse than measures placed against the interim regime by the Australian and New Zealand governments.

The Fiji Times quotes Mr Halabe as saying the repercussions of actions by the international trade union movement could kill Fiji's textile, clothing and footwear industry.

He says if union leaders are arrested or harassed, international trade unions could respond with swift action to cripple Fiji's economy which would be devastating for the country.

Mr Halabe says if the world trade union movement enforces trade bans against Fiji, the country's overseas customers would be forced to search elsewhere for goods and services.

He says there are 6-thousand people working in the textile, clothing and footwear industries and the majority would lose their jobs.