Fiji – A DAY OF SHAME
The FTUC application for a march and rally through Suva nine (9) weeks ago has been rejected this afternoon. The excuse given is that there is an ongoing investigation on the National Secretary of the FTUC. This is nothing but a lame excuse. If this was the real reason, why did the police not advise all the parties involved long ahead of time. The question that does arise is why did the Police wait till the eve of the march to reject the issuance of a permit using the excuse of investigations on the National Secretary. The last time the National Secretary was interviewed by Police was four (4) weeks ago. They did not have to wait and trouble the FTUC to get approvals from the Suva City Council, the Fiji Roads Authority and Ministry of Local Government before rejecting the application. Over the last few days the Police advised that they were merely waiting for approval from the SCC before permit could be given. It is apparent that the decision to reject the permit came from Government.
The FTUC will not be cowed in any way with this rejection. This is simply a denial of people’s Constitutional Rights to assemble and protest. Government was well aware that this march would attract a huge crowd, much bigger than the Nadi march. The rejection is another indication that we are not a truly democratic country and an affirmation of an Autocratic Government which cannot accept criticism and opposition. The march was about:
- A decent minimum wage of $4.00
- Against the imposition of Individual Contracts on Civil Servants and Teachers and Workers in Government owned entities.
- Government’s failure to honour an Agreement to review Labour Laws
- Workers’ right to strike
- In support of ATS workers’ plight
- In support of Vatukoula Striking workers since 1991
These are very fundamental issues for workers in Fiji. We now see that this Government is using an excuse of investigation to deny the workers and their families the right to protest. The National Secretary has not been charged or that the matter is not in Court. In any case, how can an investigation on an individual Officer of FTUC disqualify all other citizens their Constitutional rights. This is plain absurd. In any case the investigations are nothing but an attempt to intimidate. They will never succeed in this. No one at FTUC will be intimidated by this Government and this denial only strengthens our resolve and determination to stand up and fight for our rights no matter what it takes.
We do not see how the march in anyway would prejudice any investigations. The fact is that this Government is scared and does not want to be held accountable for the anti-worker and anti-Union stance it has adopted for the last many years. Yet they pretend to be concerned about the common women and men. Yet they work in the interest of the few privileged in our society, those that give huge donations for elections.
The FTUC will meet shortly to decide on the next course of action. We take this opportunity to thank all the many many organizations and people for their support and commitment to the workers’ cause.
We call on all workers to remain united and committed to fighting the injustices that this Government has heaped on workers and their families.