14 Dec 2011

Fiji textile industry joins in regime attack on trans Tasman unions

9:56 pm on 14 December 2011

The body representing Fiji's textile and footwear industry has joined in the Fiji regime's attack on overseas unionists who tried to enter the country on Tuesday.

The New Zealand and Australian union leaders wanted to talk to civil society groups and unions following international condemnation of the regime for alleged human and labour rights abuses.

The industry is not subject to a new decree which restricts union activity in vital industries but union sources have told Radio New Zealand International they cannot meet and represent the industry's workers freely.

The President of the Textile Clothing Footwear Council of Fiji, Kalpesh Solanki, refutes that and says a trans Tasman union campaign against buying Fiji goods will affect the industry's mostly women workers from low socio-economic backgrounds.

"If these proposals come to fruition then we are basically looking at jeapardising the livelihoods of over 4000 people and our industry's just recovering from a massive reduction in exports from 2009."

Mr Solanki says the campaign is ironic given the Australian government has invested more than three million US dollars in the industry over the past four years.