Given the EU's firm stand on Fiji, they need to keep their people in check and no doubt this news will send strong union powers from that corner of the world into an "offensive" frenzy.
Qantas must explain Fiji decree - ACTU
September 30, 2011 3:40PM
UNIONS have stepped up calls for Qantas to clarify its role in allegations its Fijian affiliate airline helped draft a decree dismantling workers' rights in the Pacific nation.
Qantas has a 46 per cent share in Air Pacific, which documents leaked to a blogging website show paid a US legal firm $US24,000 ($24,632) to draft a government decree limiting union influence in Fiji.
ACTU President Ged Kearney said today Australians had a right to know what Qantas knows about Air Pacific's involvement in drafting Fiji's new Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree, which she warned effectively outlawed unions.
The essential industries decree was revealed by the Fijian regime earlier this month and has deeply disappointed local and international unions and human rights organisations, which say it violates international conventions.
It severely limits the ability of workers to protest unfair conditions without a permit, and unions can be fined up to US$56,000 for encouraging any illegal behaviour.
All strikes, slowdowns, industrial action, overtime payments, and union representation in collective bargaining are banned under the decree declared on Friday, the ACTU said.
"Qantas owns almost half of Air Pacific and has two appointments to the Fijian airline's board," Ms Kearney said.
"So the airline should explain what its involvement was in the development of the decree, which has stripped Fijian workers, including Air Pacific employees, of their basic rights.
"If Qantas has nothing to hide, then it has no reason not to explain itself."
Federal Pacific Island affairs parliamentary secretary Richard Marles echoed the union's call for Qantas to explain, labelling the Fiji decree a disgrace.
"Qantas's engagement in Fiji is obviously a matter for Qantas, they're a private company, but I think all Australians and Australian businesses that are engaging in Fiji need to be exercising their own judgment about whether or not their actions benefit the people of Fiji," Mr Marles told ABC Radio on Friday.
"In this circumstance, I think it is completely appropriate that the Australian public hears from Qantas an explanation for how they've exercised their judgment in this case around the essential industries decree."
A Qantas spokesman later told AAP the airline had no comment other than: "Qantas is a minority shareholder in Air Pacific and we have no involvement in the day-to-day running of the airline."