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International trade unions warn Fiji military regime

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14 January, 2013The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) called for international condemnation of Commodore Bainimarama’s rejection of Fiji’s draft Constitution and stated that Fiji’s military regime is posing a threat to democracy, rights and freedoms of all Fijians.

The Fijian military regime once again obstructed an important step to restore the democracy with the rejection of draft constitution for Fiji, which included a Bill of Rights guaranteeing basic worker rights such as freedom of association, collective bargaining, freedom from discrimination, equal pay and a just minimum wage. The military regime through various draconian decrees and censorship in 2012, systematically repressed human rights defenders, trade unions and free media.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said after her recent visit to Fiji, “it is clear that the Fijian people are suffering under the injustices of a repressive and controlling military regime. The Constitution was a chance to restore rights to Fijians, and the fight for those rights is not over yet.” 

Fiji unions, led by the Fiji Trade Union Congress (FTUC), are determined to fight for democratic rights and freedom. In an important to move to challenge the military regime, the FTUC in its Special Delegates Conference on 12 January 2013, resolved to launch an all-inclusive and truly multi-racial political movement and a political party to address the attack on workers’ rights and human rights in Fiji. It is important to note that the military regime announced strict guidelines in the new Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosure Decree 2013, restricting participation of trade unionists.

In a statement issued on 13 January 2013, Sharan Burrow said, “if Commodore Bainimarama is not committed to a rights-based constitution and an independent transition to democratic elections, then he must be recognized by the international community for the dictator he is and stripped of all recognition including his role as chair of the G77.” Burrow called upon the international governments to do more to defend workers rights and restore democracy in Fiji.

IndustriALL Global Union supports the ITUC statement and stands with Fijian workers in their struggle for democracy and trade union rights.