Fijian Teachers’ Association President, Tevita Koroi, was dismissed in May 2009 from his position as principal of Nasinu Secondary School. Koroi was suspended from his school in December 2008, after his comments at the launch of Movement for Democracy in Fiji (MD Fiji). He was officiating at the launch as master of ceremonies in his capacity as FTA president, which is affiliated to the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions, and made a comment that angered the regime.
In his comments he said it was two years since the December coup and it was time that Fiji returned to democracy and parliamentary rule. He also said that the interim government must take the country to free and fair elections as soon as possible.
GENEVA (ILO News) – The November 2010 session of the Governing Body of the International Labour Office (ILO) took a number of decisions regarding fundamental rights at work.
The Committee on Freedom of Association drew the special attention of the Governing Body to the cases of Argentina, Cambodia, Fiji, Panama and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
The case of Argentina concerns allegations of a smear campaign against the Argentinean Building Workers’ Union (UOCRA) initiated by the authorities in the Province of Chubut, including the violent occupation of the UOCRA headquarters by armed groups, the destruction of property and computers, the stealing of documents, attempts to criminalize union activities, death threats and violent actions against its leaders.
The Committee urged the Government to ensure that investigations are carried out into all of these serious allegations and to ensure that the UOCRA can once again use its headquarters. It requested the Government to send its comments with respect to the proposal made by the complainant for a possible direct contacts mission that should focus its cooperation efforts on freedom of association in the Province.
In the longstanding case of Cambodia, the Committee reiterated its call upon the Government to carry out rapidly a thorough and independent investigation into the murders of trade union leaders Chea Vichea, Ros Sovannareth and Hy Vuthy. As for Thach Saveth who is currently serving a prison sentence which was imposed in a trial that was characterized by the absence of due process of law, the Committee urged the Government to ensure that he may exercise his right to a full appeal before an impartial and independent judicial authority.
The case of Fiji concerns the dismissal of a trade union leader in the public service education sector and allegations of ongoing anti-union harassment and interference with internal trade union affairs.
The Committee observed that the allegations that Mr. Koroi was dismissed on the basis of a public statement he made concerning the organization of a campaign to return the country to parliamentary rule were uncontested. The Committee requested Mr. Koroi’s immediate reinstatement without loss of pay or benefits and urged the Government to refrain from any interference which would hinder the exercise of his representation functions in the relevant state forums.
The Committee took note of further extremely serious allegations of detention, torture and attacks on trade union leaders and requested the Government to respond in detail to the most recent allegations of restrictions placed on union meetings, freedom of movement and freedom of expression.
The case of Panama concerns serious allegations of murder, assault, acts of violence against trade union leaders and members, mass detentions of protesters, as well as violations of the right to collective bargaining, the establishment of a trade union by an enterprise and anti-union dismissals. The Committee, while taking note of the efforts made to arrest and convict those responsible for the murder of one official of the trade union SUNTRACS, deeply regretted that the relevant investigations into the other murders had yet to be concluded.
The Committee firmly expected that these allegations would be concluded without delay and that those responsible would be punished. The Committee further urged the Government to send its observations without delay in respect of the allegations of injuries incurred to trade union officials, detention of SUNTRACS officers and the police attack on peacefully striking workers.
The case of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela concerns the murder of five trade union leaders and delegates in the construction industry and the alleged contract killings of more than 200 workers and union officials in the same sector, the criminalization of protest action and the persistent refusal on the part of the public authorities to bargain collectively. The Committee highlighted the importance of stepping up the criminal investigations in order to identify and punish the perpetrators and instigators of these murders so that trade unionists might be able to carry out their activities in a climate free from violence and fear.
As regards the detention of and criminal charges filed against workers for exercising a boycott, the Committee emphasized that the peaceful exercise of trade union rights should not be the subject of criminal proceedings. The Committee requested the Government to drop the charges against these union leaders and to ensure their release without delay and to amend the relevant legislative provision.
In the case of the Republic of Korea, the Committee once again urged the Government to proceed with the registration of the Migrants' Trade Union (MTU) without delay and to ensure that national decisions concerning the MTU’s application for registration recognize the principle that all workers may be guaranteed the full exercise of their freedom of association rights.
It also requested the Government to ensure that the Committee’s conclusions, particularly those concerning the freedom of association rights of migrant workers, are submitted for the Supreme Court’s consideration and to provide a copy of the Supreme Court’s decision once it is handed down. The registration of the MTU is pending before the Republic of Korea's Supreme Court, as the government appealed against an earlier court decision in favour of the MTU.
The Committee noted with satisfaction developments in a number of cases, including the reinstatement of over 200 dismissed trade union leaders in Peru and the agreements reached in a number of the Colombian cases following the Government’s recourse to ILO contacts missions. (International Labour Office statement)