1 May 2019

Fiji unionist Felix Anthony arrested

6:18 pm on 1 May 2019

A senior union leader in Fiji, Felix Anthony, has been arrested and is being questioned by police.

Felix Anthony

Felix Anthony Photo: RNZ

The arrest of Mr Anthony, the Secretary General of the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC), comes ahead of a planned nationwide protest later this week over labour issues and amid protests by hundreds of laid off Water Authority workers.

A fellow trade unionist, Attar Singh, said he witnessed the police arresting Mr Anthony this afternoon after a meeting with the Minister for Labour and others, including a representative of the International Labour Organisation.

"We'd just adjourned from the meeting and were in a neighbouring conference room when the police walked in and told him that he was being arrested," he said.

Attar Singh

Attar Singh Photo: RNZI / Sally Round

Mr Singh said he understood the arrest was over an alleged breach of public order.

"At this stage we can't say whether he'll be held overnight but going from recent trends, I think it will be fair to assume that he could be there all night."

Given planning for the protest and the actions of the Water Authority workers, Mr Singh said he wasn't completely sure which issue the arrest was in connection with, given both were happening simultaneously.

He appealed to Water Authority workers gathered outside the FTUC headquarters in Suva to remain calm.

"When a leader of a national organisation is arrested it's possible for people to get aggravated and I think in these circumstances it was important for me to call for calm and to follow the process," he said.

Arrangements were being made to find someone to step in for Mr Anthony, if he's not released in time for a tribunal hearing on the Water Authority case set for tomorrow afternoon, Mr Singh said.

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