13 Aug 2003

Fiji detain and question union leaders over cannery strike

7:31 am on 13 August 2003

Fiji police have arrested and questioned six trade unionists as a strike by more than 600 employees of a state-owned tuna cannery continues into a second week despite declared illegal.

But a police spokesman, Mesake Koroi, says the unionists, who included three women executives, were released after questioning.

The Fiji Times reports that the action came after police sent nine members of the riot squad to Levuka to reinforce their numbers at the Pacific Fishing Company's cannery.

Mr Koroi says the reinforcements were sent to ensure that threats made to destroy company premises and attack officials did not materialise.

Mr Koroi says the results of the police interrogation would be sent to the director of public prosecutions to see whether charges should be laid.

But the acting general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Rajeshwar Singh, has condemned the arrest and the interrogation of the unionists, saying it is an interference with the rights of the workers.