1 Jul 2019

ACTU wants urgent ILO mission to Fiji

2:24 pm on 1 July 2019

The ILO last month called on Fiji to accept a Direct Contacts Mission to look at progress on labour reform before next year's ILO conference.

Felix Anthony

Felix Anthony Photo: RNZ

Mr Anthony, who's the general secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress and the National Workers Union, was charged last week under the Public Order Act for allegedly making comments to a reporter that would "create or foster public anxiety".

After the arrest and charging of Mr Anthony, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, or ACTU, wants the ILO to bring forward the mission to the earliest possible date.

The president of the ACTU Michele O'Neil has written to the prime minister Frank Bainimarama urging the government ensure Fijian trade unionists are able to operate according to the international conventions which Fiji has ratified.

She says the Fiji authorities' continued reliance on "draconian" provisions in the Public Order Act are inconsistent with basic international labour standards and are a continued infringement of freedom of association and freedom of speech.

Coming after an earlier arrest of Mr Anthony in May, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions said the heavy-handed intimidation was deeply concerning.

It said the rights of workers to organise collectively in trade unions were not an optional extra in a democracy and it has called for an end to these tactics from the Fijian government.

no caption

Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

Meanwhile, Amnesty International described the charges against Mr Anthony as a "new low" for authorities and must be dropped.

Amnesty International's Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Nicholas Bequelin, said that giving comments to a news organisation was not a crime but a right.

According to Mr Bequelin, the repeated arrests of Mr Anthony and recent charges are a "baseless and brazen attempt at silencing critics."

Mr Anthony was released on bail after appearing in the Suva Magistrates Court on Friday.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs