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New concerns about Fijian workers’ rights after regime baulks at scrutiny, ordering ILO out of country
Unions have called on the Australian Government to demand an explanation from the Fiji military regime for ordering an ILO Mission out of the country without explanation. (Image credit: Peter Lake).
19 September, 2012
| Media Release
Reports that a delegation from the non-partisan International Labour Organisation has been ordered to leave Fiji today suggest a dangerous escalation of the Fijian regime’s contempt for worker rights and must be condemned in the strongest terms.
Unions have called on the Australian Government to demand an explanation from the Fiji military regime for ordering an ILO Mission out of the country without explanation.
ACTU President Ged Kearney said the incident, which came after an abrupt end to a meeting between the ILO and a Government Minister, confirmed unions’ serious concerns with the Bainimarama regime’s ongoing disregard for human rights.
The ACTU is calling on the Australian Government to demand Fiji explain this latest action, which flies in the face of recent publicly stated commitments to a return to democracy.
The ILO mission, headed by a respected judge on the International Court of Justice, arrived in Fiji on Monday and was scheduled to attend a number of meetings with the Government and civil society, including the Fiji Trade Union Congress, until Friday.
But the ACTU has received reports that no formal meetings have taken place and the mission was told earlier today to leave the country.
“This also shows how afraid of scrutiny this autocratic, non-elected regime is, in pretending to welcome the ILO but then slamming the door in its face upon arrival,” Ms Kearney said.
“We condemn this action and we have asked that the Australian Government to seek an urgent explanation from the regime, as its actions are completely inconsistent with its publicly articulated commitments to return Fiji to democracy and a country that respects human rights.
“The ILO mission was intended to investigate ongoing concerns that the Fijian military regime has systematically violated workers’ rights through a series of unilateral decrees and intimidation and harassment of union leaders.
“The mission’s visit was an opportunity for the Fiji military regime to show it was serious about reinstating human rights and democracy, but instead we are left with less confidence than ever that this will be an outcome under the leadership of Commodore Bainimarama.
“Given Australia has offered assistance for election preparations, it is incumbent on the Government to encourage greater transparency in the entire process. Sadly, we have serious concerns that Fiji will not allow such transparency without further pressure.”
The ACTU has written to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and other senior ministers, including Foreign Minister Bob Carr, urging them to demand explanations from Fiji for this action.
Ms Kearney said unions’ concerns also continued over the level of public participation, inclusiveness of representation and transparency of the constitutional review process now underway in the lead up to elections slated for 2014.
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