#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: The global online campaign that helped secure the release of Fiji trade unionists

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The global online campaign that helped secure the release of Fiji trade unionists

JOINT EFFORT: Australian unions and Fiji community working together for change.

Coupfourpointfive talks to Eric Lee, the founder of LabourStart - the online news service of the international trade union movement. LabourStart has a website, a syndicated news service, plus a huge mailing list and has conducted dozens of global online campaigns, usually in conjunction with the International Trade Union Confederation, (ITUC). Recently, it ran the online campaign Fiji: Withdraw anti-union laws, respect workers' rights, which last week helped secure the release of Daniel Urai and Felix Anthony. 

"Labourstart's campaign prompted more than 4,000 message of protests to Fiji embassies worldwide in less than 24 hours ... servers crashed and began sending out messages that they were over quota"

C4.5: For those who don't know, what is Labourstart and what are its goals?

LEE: LabourStart is the news and campaigning website of the international trade union movement.  It was set up in 1998 and is today based in London.  There are about 900 volunteer correspondents who provide the news in around 30 languages, and about 80,000 supporters on its mailing lists.  Its goals are to strengthen the trade union movement around the world and to defend workers' rights.

C4.5: With all of the workers issues worldwide that need highlighting, how does Labourstart decide what to campaign on?
LEE: We are often approached by national unions but our preference is to work with global union federations and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) where possible.  We never launch a campaign on our own initiative.

C4.5: How did it become interested in workers rights in Fiji?
LEE: We have had a long interest in Fiji going back several years.  In this particular campaign, we were approached by the ITUC for help.

C4.5: What in particular makes Fiji a cause for Labourstart and the union movement worldwide?
LEE: The arrests of trade union leaders are a terrible thing - a clear violation of human rights.  And in Fiji, this is part of a pattern of violations of human rights.  Even though Fiji is a small country, the repressive policies of your regime are well know throughout the world, particularly in the trade union movement.

C4.5: The Daniel Urai and Felix Anthony case/s hits home the reality of labour rights in Fiji at the moment. Tell us what you think is important to note in what's happening to the two unionists.
LEE: The extraordinary thing that happened here was the speed of the international trade union response - we had over 4,000 email messages of protest delivered to Fijian embassies around the world in just a few hours.  The email servers for the Fijian embassies in Paris and Wellington crashed, and began sending out error messages they were "over quota".  This only encouraged us to continue.  Within 24 hours, both Urai and Anthony were out of jail.

C4.5: You may or may not know but support on the ground for Urai and Anthony has been divided. We therefore have a situation where the international community is more supportive of the two unionists than their fellow citizens are. In your experience, what is a way for people to  move forward?
LEE: I can't speak with any authority about internal Fijian politics.  In all countries, people are often (and sadly) divided by their ideas, religions, ethnicities, and so on.  But what unites us - or should unite us - is a respect for basic human rights.  We encourage trade unionists everywhere, regardless of their nationality, or skin colour, or beliefs, to work together to make our movement stronger, and our societies better.

Struggle in Colombia
C4.5: How does the situation in Fiji compare to some other countries and to other campaigns Labourstart has been advocating?
LEE: There are countries with much worse situations, to be honest.  Colombia, for instance, continues to hold the world record for the most trade unionists killed every year.  And there are many countries which do better - including most of the Commonwealth countries. One cannot imagine in many countries a government trying to bust up unions the way Fiji's rulers have done.

C4.5: Will there be other campaigns and initiatives to highlight Fiji's cause?
LEE: Right up until Anthony's arrest, we were already running a different campaign to protest new legislation introduced in Fiji which was widely seen as anti-union.  We closed that campaign to launch the one in support of Urai and Anthony.  We're committed to continuous campaigns in defence of human rights and workers' rights in Fiji and I expect there will be more such campaigns until your country has its democracy restored.

C4.5: There's been criticism from some Fiji people for what they say is a belated union interest in Fiji. What's your thoughts on such a gripe?
LEE: From my limited experience, I've seen unions interested in Fiji from the moment there was a military coup, if not earlier.  Unions get involved anywhere and everywhere that workers' rights are trampled upon.  Fiji is only one of the countries union are focusing on.

C4.5: Is there anything else you want to add?
LEE: I hope that trade unionists in Fiji who benefit from international trade union solidarity will reciprocate by showing their support for LabourStart's other campaigns.  Right now we're campaigning against vicious strike-breaking and union busting in two former Soviet republics (Georgia and Kazakhstan), in support of Turkish leather workers sacked for "occupying" their factory, backing Egyptian unions' demand for a new labour law, and supporting telecoms workers in the USA whose German employer is denying them the right to form a union.  Though these campaigns may seem a bit remote to you in Fiji, don't forget that for the thousands of trade unionists in countries like the USA and Turkey, Fiji seems pretty remote too.  But they supported the campaign to release Anthony and Urai because they believe in the old trade union slogan, now relevant more than ever: "An injury to one is an injury to all." 

AIMING HIGH: Democracy rally in Egypt. LabourStart led new labour law campaign.

More international exposure for Fiji's cause: see below
Taking action works: even half a world away


Sweet little Iris said...

Time to crush this junta and its scumbag facist supporters. Congratulations to the US and Australia in the military cooperation announced today. A beautiful pincer movement aimed at those who attempt to destroy democracy and freedom.

Anonymous said...

Loved Obama's live press conference this afternoon in Canberra. The US are opening a military base in Darwin which will serve many purposes but what I really appreciated hearing was that it was to have a presence in the region to ensure a security architecture in the region. So bullies and wannabe dictators I guess can take that as a warning!!! Great move Obama!!

Anonymous said...

great org we should all support and join hands .
we should ask them to put black ban on fiji plane/ports.
than regime will go out.

Keep The Faith said...

Great Labourstart.

Now please get involved with Shalend Scott's case who's neck is also on the line for upholding his fellow workers rights.

Fiji Hope said...

Would like to think that some of us from Viti were those who sent some of those 4,000 messages.

Fiji Cause said...

PS Agreed.Scott's cause should be next. Dave Pflieger has been a destructive force in workers rights in Fiji.

Police HQ said...


The police compol just ended a briefing for major restructure at international school which took place @5am this morning.

He is now moving all possible threats to the exposure of his and his wife dealing from police HQ to other units.

The police officers in HQ are fed up this mans bullshit and his move which is certiantly falling inline to stratagize and remove prime minister.

also keen to note that after he transfers most senior officers and units - there will be no accountability on purchases and operations therefore more corruption in FPF by this compol like he did in prsions.

If prime ministers office do not act on this compol soon, it woldnt be the army threat but police officers are on the verge of revolt.

Enough is Enough

Anonymous said...

Brussels, 16 November 2011 (ITUC OnLine): The international trade union movement has added its support to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, for the day of action planned on 17 November in the US and several other countries.

In a video message of solidarity and support, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow honoured those involved for their courage, and congratulated them for the international spread of the Occupy movement.

“From New York to London and Toronto to Frankfurt, in hundreds of cities in dozens of countries, the movement has grown and continues to develop strength.

“Even as tents are taken down and people moved, nobody can stop what has been started,” said Burrow.

“Big banks have pulled the plug on the real economy, and some of the biggest companies are only too ready to profit from the economic crisis. Like T-Mobile USA, whose employees live in fear of company intimidation simply because they want union representation. The Occupy movement all over the world is a public demonstration of support for the dignity of work and the need to promote social justice. We stand with the movement to defend the right to peaceful assembly without interference, and against the massive and growing inequality created by Wall Street and its global financial allies. We proudly add our voices to speak out against pervasive inequality, even if the truth discomfits the 1%, she said.

The ITUC has pledged to stand with the people of the Occupy movement as they celebrate its two-month anniversary.

“We support and defend the right to demand change. It is working people who will bring the world out of the economic crisis, not the bankers. We should not believe that the financial system can remain an invisible power all on its own. We will re-build the economy for the 99%.

Unions around the world support and join in these efforts and are inspired by the daily examples of the 99% standing together. We are the 99,” said Burrows.

Occupy campaigns are happening in the main centres in New Zealand and Australia as well. Arrests in Melbourne yesterday. Fiji's time will come too

mark manning said...

It's laughable people asking an illegal P.M. to remove an illegal Police Commissioner !

Where else, but Fiji ?

Barrack Obama has just addressed Australia's Joint sitting of Parliament and confirmed the United States reengagement within the Asia Pacific Region and its commitment to it, while @ the same time, acknowledging China's inspiring Economic Growth over the past 2 decades, along with a request to " play by the rules " Commercially, so everyone can benefit.
He also mention the need and commitment in upholding, Human Rights, Free Speech and the Right of Assembly.
A Company of Marines with initially be deployed to Darwin and the cementing of ongoing and permanent ties in the way of a joint Training Facility in Darwin, are a welcome announcement and couldn't have come at a more convenient time.

Frank and Aiyaz , their cronies , the Indian and Chinese Governments, have effectively been warned, to play by the rules !

In acknowledging China's growth, he highlighted that respect for Human Rights, better pay and conditions of its worker force, obeying the Rule of Law, go hand in glove with the principles of Democracy and Democratic Rule.

Where does all this leave Frank and Co. ?

Tic toc, nowhere to go, nowhere to hide.

Anonymous said...

There is one importane question that should have being asked " what is your opinion of these same Union Leaders who supported the Regime in Fiji and are now having to wear the shoe on the other foot"

Need we say more-support yes but lets support those that have stood their ground form day 1 not those that had a falling out after they had sided with the Regime and are only now crying foul, Felix, Uraia, Baledrokadroka, Roko Ului and the list goes on! Add the names also of those corrupt politicians who are now making a big hue and cry for Democracy-they were part of the process tht has got us here!

Anonymous said...

Right now Obama will say and do the right thing there is no guarantee what-so-ever that another USA President will do anything to engage either Indonesia or China! Why do you think Aussie has finally decided to sell Uranium to India who is not a signatory of the Non-Polifiration Treaty? Not money its finally dawned on USA & Aussie that they need India as so called "partners" just incase, yes just incase -shit hits the fan in our Region! Pakistan is now basically a lost cause,Iraq & Afghanistan in a total mess.The threat of China is a real one-but what happens if Bainimarama decides China can have a base in Fiji?? Thats when NZ & Aussie will really shitting in their pants-its something the USA has seriously considered so the game plan is, Nz & Aussie play hard(bad cop) to kepp presuure on Fiji & USA plays the(good cop)! For one to understand whats the senario we now facing -go back 10-15 years and have a look at US Foreign Policy! What Aussies don't realise this move by the US into Darwin can & will antagonise countries in Asia! Right now China does not have to worry -its got both Aussie & US by the balls with regards to loans and also all China has to do is reduce its buying of Earth minerals form Aussie by just a mere 5% and Aussie will be in shit creek also. China has the wealth right now to stuff anyone inside out-whilst its keeping everyone busy with the money side of things its military might is expanding by the power of 20! China had already planned -its move whilst the allies were busy engaging the Talibans & war in Iraq. China will gently squeeze the breath out of the Allies and when its time comes will make its move. The Commonwealth well -at best just good enough for organising a grand old party -no strength or will power to get anything going-they more interested about whose the next KING of England. As if it will help pay for the price of bread any where in the Commonwealth.India its the dark horse-it will need to come to terms with China with regards it boarders, once that is sorted out all the Uranium Aussie sells to India will be just used to protect India-not Aussie.China, India and South American countries are the next power shakers if not the next super powers!DRi Yani

mark manning said...

Fijians need to determine their own future.
It can be based on ignorance, corruption or Tradition, but its Fijians who must decide their own fate.

Many have changed sides as they begin to see the futility of their own actions, and others because there's no longer a buck in it for them or in a vain attempt to avoid a prison term or criminal record for becoming involved in an act off High Treason and ignoring or breaking the Law.

Again, when Democracy is restored, Fijians need to consider how they will address these matters.
We have advocated that the Rule of Law under the constitution of 1997 be followed, as Ruled by Fiji's Court of Appeal on the 9th. of April, 2009.
You can google that if you want the correct details.

In my personal view, in would be, not only a travesty of Justice, but a huge mistake to ignore those who have broken the Law.
To do so, would inevitably send Fiji down the path of a never ending cycle of coup after coup after coup after coup.
And Fijians from all walks of life, deserve better !

Anonymous said...

America will not interfere with internal politics of a country.

Kai Gau said...

@Anon 6:36...America will not interfere BUT they will ASSIST when, and only WHEN the citizens of that nation stand-up FIRST to tyrants and dictators who rule them down to oppression and suppression and then call upon the US to/for help.

That has been noted many a times in speeches by US Presidents and their Foreign diplomats esp. current top diplomat Foreign Sec. Hillary Clinton.

Anonymous said...

America doesnt care about Fiji.

Anonymous said...

Kai Gau-America never comes to their aid as you make out they for the majority of the time plan the coups with the likes of their CIA-from assassinations!Thats whats caused all the problems happening in Iraqa, Iran and also other countrie in South America! Don't try and make out USA is a do gooded far from-the last one thet were involved by killing was Egypt?

Anonymous said...

If one carfully reads Mark Mannings write ups he always lets slip with his little clever white card up his sleeve like "where else but Fiji"!What he doesn't seem to know is Chin right now has a pal in the Pacific its Fiji! India & China-why do you think Australia is now willing to sell Uranium to India-who has not sigend the non poliferation treaty? The Australian are so scared shit of China-they had to get the Americans in to set up a not a BASE as everyone thinks it is they will be using an Aussie Base now ask yourself why? USA has more bases in the Asia Pacific Region than any other country eg Philipine, Korea, Japan Micronesia now Australia-both Australia & USA are trying their best to show their power & might against here at the request of Australia! The USA is persuing an ALLIANCE with India because they know Pakistan is done and over with-by forming an alliance with India they can get access to the Indian Ocean! Mark this might be too big for you huge head & ego to understandso i will make it simple-Fiji came into the equation because of China involvement there. The present move is to prempt the formation of a Chinese base in the Pacific-now you really shiting yourselves!

James Lockington said...

@anon300. Spotlight observation about China, USA, Australia and Marks white card. I guess we are beginning to see Marks true agenda and racist sentiments. No amount of ...i am standing up for workers, Fiji and democracy crap will cut it anymore.

mark manning said...

@ anon 3:00 p.m.
Why don't you use your real identity, that would lend credibility to your responses ?

But anyway, admittedly India's Government is a stable Democracy, though in parts, corrupt.
Evidently, India does need Uranium to run its nuclear power plants to take care of its rising population and for the moment it seems , there's no getting away from that, and I don't believe that India is a threat in any way, to any Country, except perhaps, to Fiji.

The problem with China is, it's not a Democracy and seems determined to do whatever is good for China, no matter the consequences to other Countries.

But I also believe, that if all countries play by the rules and share the resources and wealth, that everyone eventually, will get what they want without resorting to violence and intimidation.

Your wrong about one thing that's for sure anon, it's not too big for my huge ego and head.