21 Aug 2013

Union says Fiji military intimidating sugar workers ahead of planned strike

6:20 pm on 21 August 2013

The union representing sugar mill workers in Fiji says soldiers have appeared at the Lautoka mill in a clear effort to stop a strike going ahead.

The members of the Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union voted to take strike action late last month, saying that their wages, in real terms, had declined by 40 percent in the past seven years.

The general secretary of the union, Felix Anthony, says two truckloads of soldiers arrived at the mill in an obvious attempt to intimidate the workers into dropping the planned action.

Mr Anthony has called on the soldiers not to interfere with the workers' rights.

He says they need to understand the workers and their union have followed the law and are exercising their right to strike because the employer, the Fiji Sugar Corporation, is unwilling to enter into dialogue.

The Corporation earlier warned the workers about the consequences of strike action.

It also asked workers to complete a form saying whether they would strike and revealed plans to offering five-year contracts to retired mill workers.