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Fiji govt implements swinging anti-union decree

12 September 2011

Fiji govt implements swinging anti-union decree

Fiji’s military-led government has implemented a harshly punitive decree designed to virtually outlaw trade union activities and further crush dissent. The Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree 2011, ENI, was enacted on 9 September, despite months of protests and warnings across the Asia Pacific region that it is illegal, indefensible and dooms any attempt to return the nation to democracy.

Fiji’s government was installed by a coup in 2006. In 2009 the then president suspended the country’s constitution, dismissed the Court of Appeal and introduced public emergency regulations. These restrict freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly and have reportedly been used alongside a campaign of intimidation to silence opposition. Decree 35, the Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree, ENI, will allow the government to outlaw effective unions, nullify long standing collective bargaining agreements and sack union officials.

According to the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) four industries and 11 corporations will now come under the ENI decree, including aviation employer, Air Pacific.

ITF general secretary, David Cockroft stated: “Declaring Air Pacific as an essential service on an island with plenty of competition from foreign carriers is clearly nonsense. It proves, yet again, that this latest action by the Fijian regime is aimed at destroying the trade union movement in Fiji. The international trade union movement is on alert and we will not stand by and watch workers’ rights being destroyed.”

ITF president Paddy Crumlin commented: “We condemn the action of the Fijian military dictatorship in the strongest possible terms. The human rights of all Fijians are being crushed.”

He concluded: “We intend to take lawful international solidarity action in conjunction with international unions, human rights activists and community support groups. Trade unionists around the world are outraged by the continued repression of human and workers' rights by the Bainimarama military regime.”

Further comment

• MUA comment: http://mua.org.au/news/bainimarama-regime-enacts-decree-against-fijian-tr
• ACTU comment: www.actu.org.au/Media/Mediareleases/UnionscondemnFijiscontinuedattackonworkersrights.aspx

ENDS

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