16 May 2003

Fiji police arrest union leader and workers over illegal strike

7:24 am on 16 May 2003

Fiji police have arrested trade unionist James Raman and about 40 workers of the National Union of Factory and Commercial Workers for taking part in an illegal strike.

The workers of the Goodman Fielder company in Suva walked off their jobs last Tuesday in protest at the sacking of a fellow employee.

The labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, declared the strike illegal, saying the workers did not conduct a proper secret ballot before taking protest action.

The Daily Post says striking workers will appear in court today with Mr Zinck saying the arrests should serve as a warning to all illegal strikers.

The Fiji Trade Union Congress has been angered by the arrests and says it has yet to see the minister do anything about employers who breach the Employment Act and collective bargaining agreements.

The TUC's general secretary, Felix Anthony, says police do not have a role to play in industrial relations because it would not solve disputes.