Fiji Union Leaders Accuse Government Of Interference

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Claim meeting over worker issues stopped by police

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Oct. 22, 2012) – The Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) has raised concern on authorities disrupting trade union work in the country despite assurances from government that they will be no interference.

On Friday, police stopped a meeting between FTUC and the Pacific Fishing Company Limited regarding issues faced by workers at the Pacific Fishing Company (PAFCO) board room in Levuka.

FTUC national secretary Felix Anthony said in a statement that their meeting was disrupted after police officers marched in and said they were under orders from Suva to stop the discussions.

"We were then informed that the meeting will only continue provided the police officers were present during the discussions between the PAFCO chief executive Bhan Singh, human resource manager Etueni Caucau, line managers, PAFCO employees union executives and FTUC executives," he said.

"The FTUC refused such an unreasonable demand."

Mr. Anthony said they strongly condemn the action taken by police and seek an explanation on the legitimacy of their behavior and demanded that the names of those from Suva who ordered such actions be revealed.

However, in a statement at the weekend, the Fiji Police Force said the meeting was cancelled because of miscommunication and it regretted any inconvenience caused.

Fiji Police Force's chief operations officer, Assistant Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu, said officers in Levuka acted on a report lodged in Suva regarding the meeting.

"Following consultations with the Commissioner of Police, Brigadier-General Ioane Naivalurua, we instructed our officers to allow the meeting to continue as the case had nothing to do with the meeting that was being held," ACP Tudravu said.

He confirmed the meeting continued shortly after.

However, FTUC president Daniel Urai maintained the meeting stopped after police interference and did not continue.

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