The government of Fiji, which abrogated the Constitution following the 2009 coup which brought it to power, has stepped up its aggression against both private and public sector unions. Following the promulgation of Decree 21 in May this year, which excluded public service unions from all protection under the country’s industrial relations legislation, the information ministry, through an official release, and the Attorney General are stridently calling into question the legitimacy of elected union leaders and intimating that they should be replaced, in particular the leadership of the Public Service Association and of the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC), whose general secretary Felix Anthony is also the leader of the Sugar and General Workers Union. The employers’ association has recently added its voice to these public attacks, which have intensified as unions in the pacific region have pledged their active support for the union movement.
An as yet unsigned Employment Relations Amendment Decree would further cripple union representation and industrial action.
Earlier this year, Anthony and other sugar union representatives were called to a meeting with the Prime Minister at a sugar mill – and then beaten by military personnel. Intimidation of union members and representatives has intensified; now the government is openly calling on union leaders to resign.
The FTUC has denounced the government’s latest attempts at blatant interference in union affairs and has vowed to pursue its struggle for the defense of union rights.