Taking action has worked!
The news that the leaders of the Fijian trade union movement are out of jail is a testament to the power of union campaigning and the value of LabourStart.
"Within 24 hours of the launch of LabourStart's online campaign demanding the release of the two Fijian trade union leaders, both have been let out of jail.Â Their release followed the sending of nearly 4,000 messages to Fijian embassies around the world.Â Within the first few hours, we had managed to crash the embassy email servers in France and New Zealand and were no doubt overwhelming them elsewhere..." Eric Lee, LabourStart Read more
Although the immediate threat has passed we still need to remain vigilant as there is still a lot more to do about workers' rights and democracy in Fiji.
Solidarity with Fiji's workers
Arrest of FTUC President Daniel Urai
Daniel Urai, President of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, was arrested by Fiji's military regime on Saturday 29 October, on his return from the Commonwealth People's Forum in Perth, WA. This is a further attack on trade union and workers' human rights by the military dictatorship and has already been condemned by trade unions in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
Daniel had been in Perth as part of a Commonwealth Trade Union Group delegation, meeting with politicians - such as Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard - and civil society representatives to brief them on the situation in Fiji.
The Forum preceded the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which Fiji was not allowed to attend because of its suspension from the Commonwealth. Human rights was a key issue at CHOGM, and Commonwealth trade unionists used the event to urge the UN to stop using Fijian soldiers as peace keepers, and to ask the Commonwealth to condemn the Essential Industries Decree that band collective bargaining and strikes in key sectors of the economy.
Daniel was arrested earlier this summer for meeting with trade union members at what the Government claimed was an illegal meeting, although his initial trial at the beginning of September was adjourned for lack of evidence. He was told when he arrived in Perth that he was required to attend court on Monday 31 October to return his passport and prove that he had not absconded.
But some time during the week, the Fijian government's position hardened, and he was arrested as he left the airplane at Nadi Airport. No one seems to know what the charge is.
The TUC has protested about the arrest, and asked the ILO and the British Government to intervene. Australian trade unionists have asked the Australian Government to protest, and the New Zealand union movement has demanded his immediate release.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has sent the following message to the Fijian High Commission in London:
'The arrest of Fiji TUC President Daniel Urai, without any apparent law having been broken, is a flagrant attack on freedom of association and the freedom of speech that Daniel was exercising to such good effect in front of world leaders in Perth.
'It is a disgrace that the Fijian Government has breached Daniel's human rights in this way, and demonstrates once again that Fiji's military dictatorship does not belong on the world stage, or in the Government of Fiji.'
Issued: 30 October, 2011