Stop Police Intimidation: NFP
The National Federation Party will alert the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) if officers of the Fiji Police Force do not immediately stop harassment and intimidation of executives of Public Sector Unions following their decision to hold a secret ballot to seek mandate for strike action following Government’s unilateral action to put civil servants on contracted employment.
The NFP has viewed correspondence from the Fiji Public Service Association (FPSA) to Public Services International (PSI) informing PSI that on Thursday 5th October, two of its Union Executives were interviewed by Police and emails and newsletters were confiscated. Furthermore, one of the Executives was warned not to talk to a Union Organiser.
We have also been informed by Trade Unionists and Union staff members who do not represent public sector employees that they have received calls from police seeking information from them on the proposed strike ballot.
The questioning by police is harassment and intimidation of Union Executives. This action is in gross violation and complete disregard of the dispute resolution machinery since a dispute on the matter is now before the Employment Relations Tribunal as widely reported by the media last Saturday.
The Commissioner of Police should reveal whether or not police acted on a complaint filed by Government or any other party.
The Attorney General and Minister for Civil Service as well as the Minister for Defence should immediately ask the Police Commissioner to tell his officers not to get involved in this dispute.
We are not a Police State. Such actions do not augur well for Fiji’s bid to become a member of UNHRC.
Professor Biman Prasad
FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry: "Fiji is turning into a Police State"
The Fiji Public Service Association has written to Public Services International complaining of Police harassment in its attempt to take a secret ballot for strike against government’s imposition of short term individual contracts in the civil service.
FPSA general secretary Rajeshwar Singh says two of its Western Branch officials were questioned and harassed by a team of CID detectives from Suva.
“We are extremely concerned with the government’s strong arm tactics against us in what is an employment dispute,” said Mr Singh.
Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry says this is proof enough that Fiji is turning into a Police state.
“Why is the Police interfering in an industrial dispute? This is the kind of weapon they use to intimidate and harass those who stand up for their rights. The unions must stand firm and assert their rights,” Mr Chaudhry said.
Mr Singh has called on PSI to take the issue up with international organisations.
“You are already aware of Fiji government’s agenda of completely destroying the Public Sector Unions and the trade unions generally. The time has come for the international trade union movement together with the ILO, international human rights bodies, Amnesty International and others to raise their concerns on the current policy stance taken by the Fiji government,” he said in his letter to PSI.