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FIJI REGIME STARTS TO FEEL THE HEAT

June 16, 2013

Soldier order the media back as a truckl

A GLOBAL campaign for workers’ rights in Fiji has rattled the military regime, which has lashed out at international unions for wanting to “sabotage” the island’s economy.

Since the Destination Fiji: a vacation from workers’ rights campaign was launched earlier this month, about 5000 emails have been sent from around the world by people who are concerned at the deterioration of living standards and human rights under the military regime of Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Unions are now cranking up the campaign ahead of the first flight to Sydney of the rebranded Fiji Airways early next month.

On the same day as the Destination Fiji campaign was launched, the peak union bodies of Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand jointly wrote to their governments warning next year’s Fiji elections would be a sham unless international efforts were stepped up to restore democracy in the Pacific island nation.

The ACTU, UK Trades Union Congress and New Zealand Council of Trade Unions have set this September as a deadline for Fiji to demonstrate the elections will be free and fair. If there are not improvements by then, they urge their governments to withdraw all financial and technical support from the Fijian elections. Australia alone has pledged more than $2 million in aid to Fiji’s elections office.

The online campaign has struck a nerve with the Fijian regime, which has sought to discredit it with an arsenal of propaganda. The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the deterioration of living standards and human rights in Fiji since the 2006 coup and allows people to send an email directly to their country’s foreign minister to call for stronger action against the regime.

“SABOTAGE!” screamed the front page of the regime-supporting Fiji Sun newspaper the day after the campaign website went live. Quoting Fiji’s Attorney-General and Tourism Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, it falsely claimed the Destination Fiji campaign was calling for a tourism boycott of Fiji.

Fiji’s self-appointed Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainmarama has also lashed out, describing trade union leaders in his country as “fat cats [who] are trying to sabotage the Fijian economy to damage ordinary people’s jobs”.

Union leaders have been the most prominent targets of the regime, which has introduced decrees to prevent them from standing in next year’s elections.

The Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Felix Anthony, hit back at the “hypocrisy” of the regime, whose policies have plunged increasing numbers of workers into poverty.

“Workers in Fiji are struggling to put food on the table,” he said. “It is no wonder that we see an increase in our crime rates, suicides and other ills in our society.”

Mr Anthony said the FTUC supported the Destination Fiji campaign, which was about delivering respect and justice for Fijian workers.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the a mark that the Destination Fiji campaign was having an impact was the level of vitriol being directed at unions by the regime. She said unions would be ramping up campaigning over coming months.

 

 

Source -New Media ACTU; Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM

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