14 Dec 2011

NZ Union says Fiji's regime wants to downplay abuse of workers's rights

10:40 am on 14 December 2011

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions says yesterday's treatment of union officials trying to enter Fiji proves the military regime wants to downplay its abuse of human and workers' rights.

A delegation of New Zealand and Australian trade unionists was refused entry and consular assistance at Nadi airport before being sent back to Australia.

The five-member team had wanted to meet with unions and employees in Fiji to investigate the alleged abuse of workers' rights.

The CTU president, Helen Kelly, says while the military regime said the group should visit Fiji before criticising work practices, the treatment of officials yesterday proves it plays by its own rules.

"They can no longer say we haven't been and discuss it with them because that argument tends to be rhetoric. But we are saying to New Zealanders this place is nasty and this government is illegitimate and it behaved in a illegitimate way, and New Zealanders need to think really, really hard if they choose to holiday there."

Helen Kelly from the Council of Trade Unions.

Meanwhile, the head of Australia's Trade Union body, Ged Kearney, is dismissing claims the delegation was biased before heading to Fiji on a fact finding mission.

Fiji's interim Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says the group was not visiting with an open mind, but Miss Kearney rejects this.

The attorney general himself put out a press release just before we went, in fact it's what prompted me to go to Fiji was his press release saying, come to Fiji and see for yourself. So we actually wrote to him and said thank you we will come to Fiji and we will see for ourselves and we could like to talk to you.

The head of Australia's Trade Union body, Ged Kearney.