September 19, 2012

Fiji expels UN labour delegation

Updated 19 September 2012, 13:59 AEST

Fiji has expelled a delegation from the International Labour Organisation, but the Government is yet to say why.

An agency of the United Nations, the ILO is responsible for overseeing international labour standards.

The group arrived in Fiji on Sunday, at the invitation of the interim military government, to investigate claims by local trade unions that workers' rights were not being respected.

However, Felix Anthony, the General-Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, told Pacific Beat the delegation's meeting with the Labour Minister on Monday had been cut short.

On Wednesday, he confirmed news that the group was being expelled.

"I’m told that around 11am (local time) the Prime Minister’s office wrote to the head of the mission and advised the mission that it ought to leave Fiji as soon as possible," said Mr Anthony.

He believes this could bring "further disrepute" to Fiji.

"There cannot be any valid reason for the expulsion, more particularly after they were invited to Fiji. And Fiji, being a member of the International Labour Organisation, ought to have respected the delegation’s visit and participated."

Fiji's interim Government has so far not given a reason for the expulsion.

'Not the first time'
"This is not the first time the regime has behaved in this manner," said Mr Anthony, from the Fiji Trades Union Congress.

He compared this to events of last December, when members of Australian and New Zealand trade unions were not allowed in to Fiji.

That group had also wanted to investigate alleged abuse of workers' rights in Fiji.

However, they were turned back from Nadi airport, after the government accused them of bias.

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