FIJI TRADE UNION OFFICIAL SEEKS HELP IN NEW ZEALAND

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Concern over regime’s latest decree, details of beating

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 30, 2011) – The national secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Felix Anthony, is in New Zealand for talks with unionists on how to respond to new curbs on workers’ rights in Fiji.

Mr Anthony, a former MP, was aligned with the interim government following the coup in 2006, and had been on the list of coup supporters banned from entering New Zealand.

He says the ban on him entering New Zealand was lifted several weeks ago.

Mr Anthony says the Fiji trade union movement had sided with the regime when it took power in 2006 to ensure workers rights weren’t undermined.

But he says they’re disturbed by the regime’s harder line since 2009.

"With the imposition of decrees that have substantially weakened unions in the public sector and government owned entities and the abrogation of the constitution. We have then seen the Decree Number 21 which was imposed just a few weeks ago where workers in the public sector have been totally disenfranchised.

[PIR editor’s note: RNZI reports separately that Anthony told of a beating he received in February at the hands of Fiji military officers, accompanied by commander Frank Bainimarama. He said he was ordered to a sugar mill in Ba where he was accosted by Bainimarma, who was unhappy about critical statements Anthony had made about the country’s sugar industry. He and his colleagues were then taken separately into a room where they were beaten by a group of military officers "They didn’t have weapons but they started punching and kicking," he said. "It was pretty bad. My eardrum was damaged and of course I had other injuries on my back. There were soldiers all around me punching from everywhere they possibly could, probably about five, seven of them."]

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