13 Dec 2011

Australia and New Zealand union leaders deported

10:08 pm on 13 December 2011

A group of union leaders from Australia and New Zealand have been deported from Fiji after trying to enter the country on a fact-finding mission.

The Fiji regime says it warned the group they were not welcome because they were not coming with an open mind.

Sally Round reports.

"The unionists said they took up an invitation from the regime to see the situation for workers in Fiji for themselves. They said they had received no official word they were not welcome. Their visit follows international condemnation of the regime's handling of workers' rights. The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions says their representative President Helen Kelly was held at the airport on arrival. The union says her phone and Sim card were confiscated. A Fiji interim government spokesperson says the leaders were not permitted to use their phones while in transit but their belongings were sent back on the same flight. Fiji union leaders were there to meet the mission and said the deportation was against the law. Fiji's interim Attorney general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has again hit out at local unionists saying they were just there to disrupt things."