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Unions urge tourists to rethink Fiji as a holiday destination

May 5, 2013

Leading unions from Australia, New Zealand and the United States have joined forces with the International Trade Union Confederation to launch a website aimed at getting tourists to think twice about holidaying in Fiji.

Today’s website launch comes ahead of the of the launch of regular flights to Australia of the rebranded Fiji Airways next month, using a new controversialA320 aircraft bought with pensioners funds.

A joint statement from the four union poses thequestion: “Thought Fiji was paradise? Think again” and goes on to urge the Australian and New Zealand Governments to turn up the pressure on regime leader Frank Bainimarama to restore democracy.

The unions say the The Destination Fiji: A Vacation from Workers’ Rights campaign will use social media to allow people to directly call for the use of Australia’s diplomatic and economic clout to force change in Fiji, which has been living under a dictatorship since the military seized control in a coup in 2006.

The ACTU President, Ged Kearney, says recent developments in Fiji, including the rejection of a new independently prepared draft Constitution, point towards next year’s elections being a sham.

Kearney says the regime has stripped workers of their wages and conditions, free speech has been stifled and the country’s Constitution and Bill of Rights have been treated with disdain.

The statement also reiterates how union leaders have been harassed and beaten, and how it is illegal for more than three people to meet without a permit, while the standard of living has fallen with 60 per cent of wage earners living below the poverty line.

“Australian and New Zealand tourists are the biggest visitors to Fiji each year, attracted by the sunny weather, pristine beaches, and generous hospitality of the locals,” says Kearney.

“The new Fiji Airways [currently Air Pacific] will be trading on this image of a tropical paradise when it begins regular flights to and from Sydney next month, but people need to be aware that behind the picture postcard images, there is little sunshine for the ordinary Fijian worker.

“We are not saying to people ‘don’t go to Fiji’, but we are saying, if you do go, make sure you are aware of the real situation, and talk to the locals about what is really happening. You will find out that the average hotel worker earns less than $3 an hour and that most wages are 15 to 30% below the poverty line.

“Spread the word to your friends, and tell the Australian Government that it can do more to influence real change in Fiji. Australians should join the international call for change and help ordinary Fijians get their paradise back.”

Source – Coupfourpointfive – Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

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