Fiji media are today reporting the delegation will not be permitted to enter on a three-day mission to investigate allegations of human and labour rights abuses.
The illegal attorney general Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum is quoted by Fiji Village as saying the regime has noted that even before they had arrived, the Australian Council of Trade Union had taken a position and planned to move a resolution at the Australian Labour Party Conference to place Fiji on the same blacklist as Burma and Zimbabwe.
He said the regime had been willing to allow the delegation into the country on the belief there would be 'free and frank discussions on all issues without any formed ideas or positions taken'.
Khaiyum says the regime has written to ACTU president, Ged Kearney, seeking clarification about just how independence and genuine the visit will be.
But in a statement released this afternoon titled What is the Fijian Govt trying to hide? Kearney said ACTU and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions were seeking clarification but intended to go ahead with the fact-finding mission, the result of requests from Fijian unions and civil society groups.
“Australian and New Zealand unions have been open about the intentions of this visit, but this reported ban on travel into Fiji can only add to perceptions that the regime is attempting to prevent scrutiny from the rest of the world.
“We are responding to an open invitation from the Fijian Government to visit their country, and are concerned at these unconfirmed media reports that we will be denied the opportunity to have meaningful discussions about human rights concerns.
“The purpose of this delegation is to talk to Fijian workers, unions, church and civil society groups, employers and business representatives about serious allegations of repeated breaches of human and labour rights by the Bainimarama Government.
“There has been global reporting and condemnation of the unelected Fijian Government’s increasingly hostile attitude to human rights, particularly labour rights.
“We have also sought meetings with Prime Minister Bainimarama which we hope would be the beginning of a fresh dialogue about human and labour rights in Fiji."
Kearney said the two umbrella unions had held a teleconference this morning and it was agreed the visit would go ahead.
“We have been invited by Fijians to investigate the true situation in Fiji, and we don’t want to let them down.
"We have held concerns for working people on Fiji since the enactment of a series of decrees which have abolished the minimum wage, and effectively banned collective bargaining and union representation. Senior union leaders in Fiji have been arrested and detained in recent months, in what appears to be a campaign to intimidate anyone who challenges the regime.
“This is on top of other breaches of human rights, particularly freedom of expression, including a bans of church meetings, harassment and violence towards opposition politicians, religious persecution, and a clampdown on media.”
ACTU and NZTU not welcome in Fiji: AG