|TUC LEAFLET DROP: British rugby fans get the lowdown on Fiji 'island paradise'.|
British rugby fans are getting a reality bite about the true situation in Fiji thanks to a major leaflet drop by TUC at Twickenham yesterday.
The umbrella union for 54 affiliated unions representing 6.2 million people, urged match goers to use social media to show their support for Fiji's 'repressed people and its regularly-intimidated trade union movement.'
Rugby-goers were asked to support the campaign for greater freedom for Fiji workers by tweeting #fairplayfiji to @FTUC1 (the Fijian TUC).
The major leaflet campaign also called on rugby supporters to email the illegal attorney general to register their concern at the human rights abuses and to demand an end to draconian restrictions on freedom and human rights.
In a statement TUC says most see Fiji as a tropical island paradise, but the reality is that it's run by a military regime which has been suspended from the Commonwealth and reprimanded by the International Labour Organisation for 'widespread abuse of workers' rights'.
"The Fijian dictatorship controls almost every aspect of island life - it even appoints the team manager of its national sport. Rugby coach Aseri Rokorua is a Major in the military government and the Prime Minister's personal official.
"It is alleged that Major Rokorua has been behind violent attacks on trade union leaders and workers across the islands, threatening not just union activists but their families too. (see Coupfourpointfive's story this week called 'Fiji's sleeping bandas and rugby goons')
TUC says the Fijian economy is collapsing, 'with its people being driven into increasing poverty, yet the islands' population has virtually no means of speaking out.'
"There is no free press, the army has sacked independent judges and expelled an international human rights mission. Unions across the islands have been told they can only negotiate with employers if the police are also in the room."
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber says ironically while 'The military dictatorship is passionate about rugby - one of its senior officials is over here to manage the national team - but sadly the government is less enthusiastic about improving the lot of its people and restoring democracy to the islands.
'Meanwhile, as workers are becoming ever poorer, it is only the trade union movement which dares speak out, and for doing so its leaders and their families are living in fear of arrest and assault.'
The TUC plans to follow the Twickenham campaign with more leaflets when Fiji play Gloucester on Tuesday and Ireland A next weekend as it continues its tour of England, Ireland and Georgia.
Those rallies are expected to be outside Gloucester's Kingsholm Stadium and Limerick's Thomond Park.