4 Feb 2014

Fiji FTUC president still baffled at arrest over Sheraton strike

4:27 pm on 4 February 2014

The President of Fiji's Trade Union Congress says he has yet to receive any explanation as to why he and five other unionists were arrested over a strike at Nadi's Sheraton hotels on New Year's Eve.

Daniel Urai says he was arrested by a special team sent from Suva one week after the strike was settled.

Mr Urai says the dispute was between the Nadi landowners and Sheraton hotel management and the union had no involvement in organising the strike.

While the labour minister, Jone Usamate, sent a letter to the union saying the strike was illegal, he says he did not direct the police to arrest the unionists.

Mr Urai says he suspects that order came from higher up in the regime.

"Fiji is a closely-knit community like all Pacific Islands. What I was told, what I heard from the police among them in general - it probably needs to be confirmed - is that the attorney general Aiyaz Khaiyum gave the order for us to be arrested as he is also the minister for tourism."

Daniel Urai says the police were desperate to find someone to say that the union was responsible, so the unionists could be charged.