Fiji union unrest has spread here with its New Zealand unions vowing full support to their Fijian counterparts in the face restrictions being imposed by the Fijian regime.
The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions says it’ll step up action in support of Fiji unions if leaders like Felix Anthony are further victimised by the Fiji regime. Fifteen unions met the senior Fiji Trades Union Congress official in New Zealand on Monday.
He told them of increased intimidation of union workers by the Fiji military and increasing curbs on union activity.
The secretary of the New Zealand Council Peter Conway said unions representing maritime and airline workers may place bans or boycotts on services to Fiji and any action may be brought forward if Mr Anthony’s targeted when he returns home.
“We’re not ruling action out or in. Our preference would be that there is action but we’re a democratic movement and that has to be discussed with members and we’re also aware that when you take action of this sort you need to have broad public support.”
Mr Conway says he’ll seek support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enable Mr Anthony to return home safely.
Fiji’s interim attorney-general has hit out at union leaders who he says are promoting sanctions which will hurt the grassroots of Fiji.
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told Radio Fiji that union leaders were portraying a false picture of the ground realities in Fiji and said they were out for their own self-preservation.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said leaders like Mr Anthony had used unions for their own benefit, initially supporting the interim government to further their careers.
Meanwhile, Fiji's President is receiving letters from pensioners, employers and employees calling on him to appoint a Commission of Enquiry into the country's pension fund.
Earlier this year, the financially troubled Fiji National Provident Fund put forward a plan that would see old age pensions cut by up to 64 per cent.
The planned cut has angered pensioners, who have launched legal action in Fiji's High Court in an attempt to stop the FNPF from going ahead with it. On Monday afternoon, the High Court postponed its ruling on legal action taken by the government and the pension fund to strike out the pensioners' challenge.
Over the weekend, the FNPF paid for newspaper advertisements claiming those opposing the cuts were a few self-interested individuals who are deliberately spreading false rumours.
The FNPF said the pension cuts would go ahead on September 1, with those below the Basic Needs Poverty line exempt. Employers, pensioners and members of the FNPF have turned to President Epeli Nailatikau, calling on him to establish an Independent Commission of Inquiry into Fund mismanagement.