19 Jul 2011

CTU fears Fiji unionist will be arrested

3:43 pm on 19 July 2011

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) is worried a Fiji union leader visiting New Zealand will be detained when he returns home.

Felix Anthony and other senior Fiji union figures are meeting New Zealand and Australian counterparts to call for travel bans and boycotts of flights to Fiji.

Mr Anthony says the military regime is intimidating union workers and stepping up efforts to curb union activities.

But Fiji Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the union leaders are spreading a false picture of the country for their own personal benefit.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told Fiji Broadcasting union leaders do not have Fiji at heart because sanctions they've promoted will affect people such as villagers selling handicrafts, gardeners, taxi drivers and security guards.

He says the leaders are portraying a false picture of Fiji and are out for their own self preservation. He says leaders like Mr Anthony have used unions for their own benefit, and pointed out the costly cars some of them drive.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says some of them initially supported the current government to further their careers and it's unfortunate unions in New Zealand and Australia are relying on their representations.

The CTU says it is already preparing a campaign against the regime's treatment of unions, and will bring it forward if any union leaders are detained when they return to Fiji.

It says it will also seek help from New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to make sure Mr Anthony can return home safely.