The military dictatorship in Fiji are attempting to crush the trade union movement in the run up to alleged free elections in 2014.
During a negotiation regarding basic working conditions between the Fijian TUC and bosses from the Pacific Fishing Company (PAFCO) - the police burst into the meeting and called a halt to proceedings. The claimed that their actions were a direct instruction from the government, and negotiations could only continue in the presence of the police.
The trade unionists present refused the ultimatum, and discussions subsequently ended. Despite assurances to the contrary, the Fijian state are making a habit of interfering in industrial disputes in this manner. In 2007 the TUC national conference was closed down, as the organisers had not sought permission from the government to hold a union meeting.
High profile militants have been arrested, or prevented from travelling, on phoney charges which are then dropped. Rank and file workers are being intimidated not to attend meetings. If they do, they are often kidnapped and beaten by the military. Most senior positions within the public sector and within industry have been given to senior members of the armed forces.
This blatant interference in collective bargaining by the Fijian state follows recent claims that they adhere to all international labour conventions and human rights. It is thought that the Fijian military dictatorship is attempting to suppress all trade union activities before free elections are due to take place in 2012.
Laughably, the police have apologised for their actions, and claimed to have acted on a ‘miscommunication’.
Fiji has been under a military dictatorship since a democracy ending coup in 2006.