Sugar Workers in Fiji

Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Online Digest

Luatoka Sugar Mill

The situation for unionised workers in Fiji continues to deteriorate. Workers at Luatoka sugar mill have balloted to take strike action over wages and conditions. In response, troops were deployed to the mill in August which the Army says troops are there simply there to protect the mill and equipment in the event of a strike.

According to the Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union, the management has also advised workers that it will get workers from India to operate the mills if a strike occurs.

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The Attorney General, the architect of many repressive decrees that have stripped workers and citizens of their fundamental rights, has now issued threats to the union via the state-dominated press. The latest threat stated that the government will intervene to keep the mills running in the case of a strike. This has been interpreted to mean that the military will be mobilized as replacement labour and/or that the government will place the sugar sector under the scope of the Essential National Industries (ENI) Decree. The ENI Decree, repeatedly condemned by the International Labour Organization, strips away almost all rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

On 6th August, Amnesty International, in conjunction with the ITUC and ten national trade union centres including from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea called for an

ILO Commission of Inquiry regarding the Fiji government’s persistent and egregious non-observance of the fundamental workers’ rights contained in the ILO Convention No 87 on Freedom of Association and the Protection of the Right to Organise.

 

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