Government Statement on Proposed ACTU and NZCTU Intended Visit
1. The Government of the Republic of Fiji (“GOVERNMENT”) will now not welcome any delegation from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (“ACTU”) or the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (“NZCTU)”) to visit Fiji.
2. In late November, the President of ACTU wrote to the Fijian Attorney-General informing that a delegation from ACTU would be visiting Fiji in December, and requested an appointment to meet the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General.
3. As in the past, the Bainimarama Government has always welcomed genuine and independent fact-finding mission to Fiji, and to meet with Government as well as other Stakeholders. Such visits are welcome since it facilitates a better understanding of the numerous reforms and positive initiatives which have been implemented by the Bainimarama Government.
4. The Bainimarama Government was receptive to allowing Australian trade unions on a fact finding mission and to meet with Government and other stakeholders in the belief that there would be free and frank discussions on all issues without any preconceived ideas or positions taken. Indeed, it is only after an independent assessment can credible conclusions be arrived at.
5. However, the Government notes that, even before visiting Fiji, the ACTU had taken a position and furthermore planned to move a resolution at the Australian Labour Party Conference to place Fiji on the same blacklist as Burma and Zimbabwe.
6. On 6 December 2011, the Government wrote to the President of the ACTU seeking clarification on the true independence and genuineness of its visit. A press statement was also issued.
7. In her reply on 8 December 2011, the ACTU President simply ignored the issue or creditability and independence. Her reply stated that the NZCTU would be joining her delegation and that they will “endeavour to adjust [their] itinerary” should Government not be able to meet them at the time ACTU had allocated.
8. It is apparent that ACTU delegation will have no objectivity and fairness. It is also apparent from their correspondence and interviews to the media that they are simply not interested in the truth. They are interested in furthering the interests of 2 or 3 of their trade union mates in Fiji, such as Felix Anthony and his accomplices.
9. The Government will now not permit any delegation from ACTU to visit Fiji not to hold any meeting in Fiji. No member of the delegation will be allowed entry into Fiji. Should they arrive in Fiji, they will be sent back.
10. The Government remains steadfast in its vision to implement reforms that will improve the standard of living of all workers, and indeed, all Fijians. The Bainimarama Government is driven by long-term stability and security for Fiji and for all Fijians and is not driven by petty politics and point- scoring.
11. The ACTU neglects to remind itself and tell the rest of the World that dozens of trade unions exist in Fiji and freely negotiate and assert the rights of their members with the employers.
12. It is unfortunate that the ACTU, its New Zealand alliance and Felix Anthony and his accomplices continue to seek ways to undermine the Fijian economy and the livelihood of the ordinary Fijians.
13. The Essential National Industries Decree (“Decree”), which was introduced earlier this year, has resulted in the successful negotiation of fair and just collective agreements in these industries.
14. The Decree has for the first time empowered the employers and the workers to negotiate terms and conditions of employment, without any interference from a handful of trade unionists, who have over the years enjoyed privileged positions at the expense of the diligent workers, ordinary Fijians and the modernising of the Fijian economy. Indeed, no agreement arrived under the Decree has been enforced upon any employer or worker by the Government.
15. The introduction of numerous welfare programmes and the recent tax cuts for 99% of all Fijian tax payers is a manifestation and result of a Government that is committed in a tangible manner to protecting the rights and welfare of all Fijians
(Monday 12th December 2011, No: 2224/MOI) BIASED ACTU DELEGATION NOT WELCOME IN FIJI