22 Sep 2011

Fiji unions alarmed at US firm writing Fiji regime decrees

6:26 pm on 22 September 2011

The head of Fiji's Trades Union Congress says the apparent drafting of an employment decree by a New York law firm at the request of an airline chief may be a first for Fiji.

His comments follow the leak of the firm's itemised 24,000 US dollar invoice for three months work to the coupfourpointfive blog.

The documents show Air Pacific's CEO, David Pflieger, commissioned the Essential National Industries Employment Decree from the US legal firm, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy earlier this year.

Felix Anthony says private companies have no role in writing laws, which should be properly considered by an elected government.

Mr Anthony says the move is extremely unethical and warrants Mr Pflieger's immediate dismissal.

"This is probably the first time in Fiji's history that we have had lawyers sitting on the other side of the world drafting decrees or laws that would affect the people of Fiji. This only clearly demonstrates the dictatorial nature of the government in Fiji. And the fact that there is absolutely no accountability or transparency in this process."

Mr Anthony says there has been no consultation with the people in Fiji, nor with the workers of Fiji.

The decree has been widely criticised, including by the International Labour Organisation.

The interim regime has refused to comment about its role in procuring the decree for which Air Pacific was billed at an hourly rate of just under 1,000 US dollars.

Air Pacific has declined to comment while its minority stake holder, Qantas of Australia, says it wants no involvement in the matter, adding that Air Pacific runs a separate operation.