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FTUC General Secretary Felix Anthony to be further questioned by Fiji Police today

Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) General Secretary Felix Anthony is still in police custody.

Anthony will be further questioned today.

He was arrested Tuesday for allegedly breaching the Public Order Act.

In a press statement, the FTUC affiliates say they will continue to demand the immediate release of Anthony as they believe that this is a clear breach of human rights as stipulated in the Constitution in the Bill of Rights.

The Ministry of Employment has sought a tripartite dialogue with the International Labour Organisation, the Fiji Trades Union Congress and the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation.

Minister Parveen Bala says, unfortunately, the contribution from FTUC General Secretary Felix Anthony during the meeting left the Ministry deeply concerned that he is not interested in working with anyone to uphold the interests of Fijian workers.

Bala said Anthony is instead singularly focused on derailing the direct economic benefits of the ongoing conference being hosted in Denarau, which is the 52nd Asian Development Bank meeting.

He said it’s his job to sustain and create jobs for ordinary Fijians and one of the best ways to do that is by marketing Fiji, Fijian products and the talents of the Fijian people to the rest of the world.

Bala said during the meeting, Anthony claims that unions had not been consulted during the Government’s ongoing civil service reform programme.

He said s that this is not true as the government has made every effort to consult regularly with all public-sector unions.

Meanwhile, the The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is calling for the New Zealand Government to step in over the “appalling” detainment of members of the Fijian trade union.

The problems stem from disagreements between the Water Authority of Fiji and its workers over the use of temporary work contracts.

Fijian Trade Union Congress secretary general Felix Anthony and other officials have been detained.

Earlier on Monday, National Union of Workers information relations officer Shiu Lingam, general secretary of Fijian Teachers Association Paula Manumanuitoga and Fiji Nurses Association general secretary Salanieta Matiavi were taken in for questioning by police.

CTU president Richard Wagstaff said the detainments were “an appalling response from the government to Fijians exercising their democratic right; to organise and to protest”.

“This is an attack on the rights of working people in Fiji and is both outrageous and shocking. We stand in solidarity with Fijian working people and their trade unions.”

He called on the New Zealand Government to act and request the immediate release of the union members.

The CTU plans a protest outside the Fijian Embassy on Pipitea St, Wellington today.

In another development, the International Trade Union Confedration (ITUC) has written to Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama seeking the release of the National Secretary of the FTUC.

The General Secretary of the ITUC Sharan Burrow in the protest letter stated that “freedom of association is the primary safeguards of peace and social justice. The workers have the right to express their views and to defend their interests, including through peaceful demonstration, in an atmosphere free of fear, intimidation, coercion, repression and violence.”

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