ITUC condemns arrests of Fiji trade unionists

The ITUC has condemned the arrest of Felix Anthony, National Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress and President of the ITUC Asia-Pacific, along with some 30 other trade unionists on May Day. Anthony was participating in a tripartite meeting with government, employer and International Labour Organization representatives in Suva when police entered the conference room and detained him.


Original article - 02/05/2019:
“This is a grotesque abuse of power by the Fiji authorities, made even worse by the fact that police barged in to an ILO meeting in which the government itself was taking part in order to arrest Felix Anthony. We demand that he and all the others detained be released immediately, and that the false allegations against them be dropped,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

“Employment Minister Parveen Bala publicly cited comments made by Felix Anthony during the tripartite meeting in support of the decision to arrest him. Having police on standby to detain a union official during a tripartite meeting shows that the government has no regard for workers’ rights or for social dialogue.”

“Government officials have also been telling the media what it can and cannot report, in violation of the right to freedom of speech,” added Burrow.

The government’s actions seem to be aimed in the first instance at stopping a public demonstration planned for the coming days in defence of workers at the Water Authority of Fiji, and to prevent Felix Anthony from representing workers at a 2 May court hearing.

“Beyond the immediate clamp down on workers’ rights to assemble, organise and put their case to the public, these mass arrests show a government that has no regard for the fundamental rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining which are guaranteed under ILO standards, and which the government is obliged to respect,” said Burrow.

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