27 Jan 2018

Calls for ILO to step in after Fiji unionist questioned by police

9:39 am on 27 January 2018

The director-general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Guy Ryder has been called on to urgently intervene in the unfolding situation in Fiji.

The general secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Council, Felix Anthony, was interrogated by police this week about 'sabotaging the economy', an offence under section 8 of the Public Order Act.

Mr Anthony said the criminal investigation division in Lautoka spoke with him about the march in of the Air Terminal Services employees recently.

He said the police suggested his remarks about the possibility of a national strike would sabotage the economy.

Felix Anthony

Felix Anthony Photo: RNZ

In a statement, the International Transport Workers' Federation and International Trade Union Confederation say they had no choice but to alert the ILO, and that the government in Fiji must act and stop this unacceptable behaviour.

International Transport Workers' Federation president, Paddy Crumlin, said this looks like a process of deliberate intimidation aimed at Felix Anthony and all the workers who stood up for their rights over the ATS lockout.

The staff had been prevented from working for attending a meeting to discuss concerns of mismanagement, appalling conditions, sexual harassment and an 11-year pay freeze.

"Unfortunately, the Fijian authorities have past history of this kind of thing, and we deplore the fact they are threatening to impose criminal charges based on an excessively broad interpretation of so-called 'economic sabotage' for the legitimate and peaceful exercise of the right to strike," Mr Crumlin said.

"The only sabotage in this case has been to the pay and working conditions of these loyal ATS workers over the last 11 years."

Minister Semi Koroilavesau, (right), meets ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder (L). Photo: Fiji Government

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