Qantas must explain its role in allegations its Fiji partner airline was the architect behind the draconian decree that has dismantled the island nation’s workers’ rights.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said Australians had a right to know what Qantas knew of Air Pacific’s involvement in drafting Fiji’s new Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree, which effectively outlaws unions.

According to media reports in the last 24 hours, Air Pacific, which is 46% owned by Qantas, paid a US law firm to draft the new decree, which has brought international condemnation upon the military regime in Fiji.

“Qantas owns almost half of Air Pacific, and has two appointments to the Fijian airline’s board,” Ms Kearney said.

“So the airline should explain what its involvement was in the development of the decree, which has stripped Fijian workers, including Air Pacific employees, of their basic rights.

“We know that Qantas, through its stake in Air Pacific, stands to benefit from this decree. If Qantas has nothing to hide, then it has no reason not to explain itself.”

Ms Kearney said the illegal and unelected government led by Commodore Frank Bainimarama was increasingly defiant in the face of international criticism and Australian companies should consider their involvement in Fiji.

The Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree, declared on Friday, seeks to:

  • Ban all strikes, slowdowns, sick actions or any action that may negatively impact the employer
  • Ban unions from representing workers in negotiating collective bargaining outcomes
  • Void all current collective agreements within 60 days
  • Provide that after 60 days any strike or lockout may take place only with the written authority of the Minister
  • Ban overtime payments, including for weekend work, work on days off, and work on public holidays unless agreed by the employer
  • Cancel all current Wages Council Orders regarding minimum terms and conditions of work in designated industries
  • Require that all members, office bearers, officers and executives of the union shall be employees of the designated company