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Trade unions urged to use heads and hearts on Fiji

Import News: Trade unions urged to use heads and hearts on Fiji

Import News from the Importers Institute 16 June 2000 - Trade unions urged to use heads and hearts on Fiji

Press Release from: Apparel & Textile Federation and Importers Institute For immediate release

Trade unions calling for a trade boycott against Fiji need to use their heads as well as their hearts, say New Zealand manufacturers and importers.

This follows reports that Australia's powerful waterside union has threatened action against ships from New Zealand carrying banned Fijian cargo - a move that could prove costly for transtasman trade.

"The Fijian clothing industry employs 11,000 Fijians, most of whom are of Indian extraction," says Daniel Silva, secretary of the Importers Institute.

"If the Australian unions want to put pressure on Mr Speight, they are choosing the wrong target."

Paul Blomfield, CEO of the Apparel & Textile Federation, says the Australian union ban has already caused job losses in Fiji.

"If the ban persists, the manufacturing infrastructure of that country could be damaged beyond repair."

New Zealand unions have also resolved to act against Fiji following the recent coup in that country. They have proposed a ban on all cargo in and out of Fiji, and a campaign to persuade New Zealanders to boycott Fijian goods.

However, the New Zealand Government has opted for "smart" sanctions. Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff has ruled out comprehensive economic sanctions at this stage, saying they could hurt Fijians who oppose Speight's actions.

Manufacturers and importers urge New Zealand unions to support the Government on this issue.

"Importers do not support Speight's attempt to disenfranchise over half of Fiji's population," says Silva. "But to condemn his victims to poverty is no way to express that disapproval."

Blomfield adds: "We should be thinking with our heads as well as our hearts."

Ends

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