21 Sep 2012

Fiji invites ILO mission back but lays out new terms of reference

4:27 am on 21 September 2012

The National Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress Felix Anthony has criticised the interim Government's behaviour over its ousting of an International Labour Organisation delegation.

The group flew out yesterday morning after it was given new and unacceptable terms of reference for its visit.

The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday released new terms of reference inviting the ILO mission back as long as it interviews a wider range of workers and organisations.

He suggested it came with predetermined outcomes.

But Mr Anthony says the timing is unfortunate with a trade hearing in the United States early next month that could see the US withdraw its preference on Fiji exports.

He says it was the Ministry of Labour that drafted the original terms of reference and dictating new terms shows the interim Government has something to hide.

"I believe they've shot themselves in the foot on this. By expelling the mission and then a day later issuing a statement inviting them back provided the terms of reference is acceptable to government is no way to behave at least not with a UN agency."

The National Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress Felix Anthony

The Australia Government has also voiced concerns over Fiji's decision to expel the ILO mission.

In a statement the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says the ILO mission was seen by the international community as a step toward improving and upholding workers' rights.

It says it is regrettable it hasn't gone ahead.

Australian Council of Trade Unions President Ged Kearney says Fiji's move is a dangerous escalation in the regime's contempt for workers.

She says it shows how afraid of scrutiny this autocratic, non-elected regime is, in pretending to welcome the ILO but then slamming the door in its face upon arrival.