1 May 2019

Fiji trade unionists detained

10:30 am on 1 May 2019

Several Fiji trade unionists have been detained by police overnight ahead of planned worker protests later this week.

Felix Anthony

Felix Anthony Photo: RNZ

The Secretary General of the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) Felix Anthony said the detained unionists included the general secretaries of the Fijian Teachers Association and the Fiji nurses' union and the Lautoka industrial officer of the National Union of Workers.

Mr Anthony said they had been questioned over the FTUC's call for a nationwide protest on Friday and a march in Nadi planned for Saturday.

"I have not had a chance to speak to the police but they're basically worried about how the protests will take place and why the trade unions are inciting members to take part and basically what my role has been in this whole thing."

The police acting chief of intelligence and investigation Assistant Commissioner Bitukula Waqanui is reported in the Fiji Times as saying the trade unionists were being detained for "alleged breaches of the law".

"We actually condemn the heavy-handed manner in which the police has been acting," Mr Anthony said.

"Fiji boasts ... of being a democracy, respecting human rights and here we have the police actually intimidating union leaders, members of the unions and trying to instil fear in them and this is an abuse of power of the police," Mr Anthony said.