11 Aug 2011

International trade union body says rights of workers in Fiji destroyed by decree

10:17 am on 11 August 2011

The world's main international trade union organisation says the rights of workers in Fiji has been destroyed by the interim government's latest decree.

The Essential National Industries Employment Decree has just been gazetted, and the banning of strikes in key sectors is just one aspect of the legislation.

A high level International Labour Organisation delegation has arrived in Fiji to investigate reports of harassment of trade unionists; it is especially concerned with the recent arrest of two vocal unionists.

The international trade union confederation has promised to escalate its campaign against the regime following the release of the new decree.

Its general secretary, Sharan Burrow, says the order is an attack directly on workers and their unions.

She says the interim government will have the chance today to tell the ILO it will repeal the decree.

"That they won't proceed with taking away fundamental rights with harassing and indeed arresting union officials. This is not the basis in which any nation can operate in the modern world."

British unions are calling on British sugar importer Tate and Lyle to press the Fiji regime to respect trade union rights and restore genuine democracy.

The unions say they hope the company can take steps to ensure good working practise for all workers in the company's global supply chains, especially in the Fiji sugar industry.