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  Issue No 60 Official Organ of LaborNet 30 June 2000  




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Fiji Bans Lifted

By Andrew Casey

Fiji employers are expected to start reinstating all their workers over the next week, now that Australian union bans have been lifted at the request of the local union leadership.

The Fiji TUC has today started a campaign to ensure that all workers do get their jobs back as quickly as possible.

Felix Anthony, the Fiji TUC national secretary went on local radio this morning as part of the union campaign.

He told the radio station that the reinstatements were part of the deal struck between the Congress and the employers before the union bans were lifted.

"Part of the agreement was that all employees who lost jobs would be reinstated in due course, or as soon as the ban was lifted," Mr Anthony told a Fiji radio station.

"We have reached that agreement on trust and goodwill and look forward to employers complying with those provisions," Mr Anthony said.

John Coombs, the leader of the Maritime Union of Australia agreed with Felix Anthony and told the ACTU Congress this week that the lifting of the bans at midday on Thursday was " an act of good faith."

The agreement reached on Wednesday was a result of a what has been labelled a historic meeting involving representatives of the main Fijian employer groups, the Fiji Trades Union Congress, the religious community and other civil society groups.

The signatories to the agreement hope that it will lead this Pacific Island nation out of the current crisis which sees PM Mahendra Chaudhry and 27 other politicians and government officials still, after six week, held hostage by a group of armed thugs led by George Speight, a failed entrepeneur facing corruption investigations.

The joint agreement calls for the crisis to be resolved within the framework of the 1997 Fiji Constitution.

The MUA's John Coombs - in a moving address to the ACTU Congress - praised Fiji's PM, Mahendra Chaudhry, as a great trade union leader.

Chaudhry - who had headed up the Fiji TUC before going into Parliament - is well known to the international union movement because he served on the boards of the International Confederation of Free Trade Union, as well as being very active in the Public Services International and regional peak union councils.

In the debate on Fiji, on the last day of the ACTU Congress, John Coombs warned that the Australian union movement was fully prepared to re-impose the bans.

" Let us make it clear that if our act of good faith is not followed by the prompt release of the hostages we are prepared to consider the bans being re-imposed," John Coombs told the 800 ACTU delegates.

Coombs went on to criticise the Australian Government for "a lack of leadership" in isolating the terrorists holding the Chaudhry government hostage.

" The only people in this country that have provided any sort of effective opposition to this is the people who are the members of this great Australian Council of Trade Unions," he said, to applause.

Apart from comparing the activism of the union movement to the failures of the Australian Government Coombs lifted the current Fiji campaign to the levels of the historic anti-apartheid campaigns which the Australian union movement ran in support of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress.

" The ACTU has been placed in the forefront of regional activity before - in support of South Africa - and now we are doing it in the Pacific region. Countries in our region need our support," John Coombs said.


*    For all the latest from the Pacific read Labourstart

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 60 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Turning Tides
ACTU President Sharan Burrow reflects on the disappearance of the middle class and what the union movement can do about it
*  Unions: Fear and Loathing in Wollongong
For four days this week, too much unionism was barely enough. We bring you the highs and lows from behind the scenes and inside the bars of this week’s ACTU Congress.
*  Politics: The Group Hug
Opposition leader Kim Beazley came, saw and conga-ed. Here's what he said to the ACTU Congress.
*  History: Unions and Family Trees
Trade union records may not be the first port of call for a beginning family historian, but down the track a little, these records could bring to life an ancestor who previously was just a name printed on the page.
*  International: Fiji Bans Lifted
Fiji employers are expected to start reinstating all their workers over the next week, now that Australian union bans have been lifted at the request of the local union leadership.
*  Review: Room to Manoeuvre
Full employment with a highly skilled well-paid workforce is a realistic goal for Australia, despite the supposed constraints of globalisation.
*  Satire: Satan Subpoenaed To Cricket Inquiry
The King Commission of Inquiry into cricket match-fixing yesterday heard evidence from Satan that he never influenced Hansie Cronje to accept bribes.

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»  The Soapbox
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