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Unions threaten to lobby Aust and NZ govts not to fund Fiji elections

May 26, 2013

Top unions from Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand say they will pressure their governments to withdraw financial and technical support for the 2014 elections if the Fiji regime can’t show the elections will be fair and free.

The ACTU, Trades Union Congress and New Zealand Council of Trade Unions have all written to their governments warning next year’s elections will be a sham unless international efforts are stepped up to restore democracy.

It comes as the Australian Aid Minister Counsellor Pacific, John Davidson, tells Fiji media that Australia has not yet decided on election funding for 2014 but remains committed to supporting ‘credible steps’ towards elections and the return of democracy. (FijiLive May 23)

Both New Zealand and Australian chipped in a significant sum for the Constitutional reforms but the draft of the five member Constitution was dumped by the regime, who went on to come up with its own draft.

The union’s promised action also follows the success of its workers rights campaign, urging tourists to think twice about holidaying in Fiji.

More than five thousand people (two thousand of them from Australia), have sent emails to their governments and the Fiji regime as part of the international online and social media campaign to highlight the abuse of worker and human rights.
In a statement released today, the unions say the military dictatorship has gone backwards from its pledges.
In a letter, jointly signed by ACTU President Ged Kearney, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady and CTU Secretary Peter Conway, the unions say it’s time for more pressure.
“The regime has made it clear that it has no intent to play by the rules,” the letter says. “It has made a mockery of the constitutional reform process, has eliminated much of the political opposition, [and] will re-impose draconian decrees that limit speech and assembly.”
Ged Kearney says crunch time is approaching for Australia to take real and effective action if a framework for democracy and fundamental rights are not restored by September, saying people could back the union lobby by taking part in the Destination Fiji campaign.
“Behind the image of a beautiful tropical paradise, the reality for Fijian workers is falling living standards and widespread poverty that has worsened because of the crackdown on labour rights by the Bainimarama military regime.
“We need to tell our governments that they can do more to influence real change and help ordinary Fijians get their paradise back.”
The General Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Felix Anthony says the campaign is about delivering respect and justice for Fiji workers.
“We believe this campaign adds another element to the long struggle of the Fijian people to end the military dictatorship which harms the human rights of our people – and to deliver a transparent and democratic Fiji for our children and grandchildren.”
The Destination Fiji: A Vacation from Workers’ Rights, which has angered the Fiji regime, has received wide coverage ranging from the Times magazine to a German youth magazine Junge Welt(http://www.jungewelt.de/2013/05-22/039.php).
The unions are aiming for 10 thousand emails by June 8, the scheduled date for the newly-branded Fiji Airways’ first flight to Sydney.
Source – Coupfourpointfive ; Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM
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