New Zealand's Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has criticised the arrest of unionists in Fiji who it says were exercising their democratic rights.
Fiji unionists have called off a mass protest planned for Friday in the wake of a police clampdown
In Wellington yesterday about 30 protesters gathered outside Fiji's High Commission in solidarity for their Fijia counterparts.
CTU president Richard Wagstaff said the detentions were an atrocious response from the Fijian government to people exercising their democratic right to organise and to protest.
"These are really gutsy people who work amidst serious resistance," Mr Wagstaff said.
"They're aware every day that this could happen. But how about a government stepping in May Day and arresting their top leader? Shame."
Ashok Shankar, who has lived in New Zealand for about 30 years, said it was a return to form for Fiji's government, which even though it held elections in 2014, found power through a military coup in 2006.
"Arresting trade union workers and officials for speaking out is just absolutely unacceptable. You cannot claim yourself to be providing equal rights to all and then behaving in this way," Mr Shankar said.
Elisapeci Samanunu Waqanivala was also angry for her home country.
"It's a failed state, it's a dictatorship cloaked in something else. It's a failed democracy," she said.
Miss Waqanivala said she worried about the conditions Fijian workers faced.
"I'm just very deeply saddened. Deeply saddened by the decay of Fiji at every level of governance," she said.
The Roads Authority denied unionists permission to march and rally in Nadi on Saturday, saying the size of the march was too much for police who were providing security at a nearby Asian Development Bank meeting.
The International Labour Organisation has turned its sights on Fiji, for suppressing workers and unions, Mr Wagstaff said.
"They understand all right that unions are the voice of working people, they understand all right that unions are a political organisation, and unions are essential to democracy. We know when it comes down to it, they just don't make the cut of a democracy. They cannot call themselves a democracy whilst they incarcerate union leaders like Felix Anthony and the other 30 odd union activists in Fiji."
The protesters want the New Zealand government to put pressure on Fiji, he said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters said the issue was an internal matter and he could not comment at this stage.