Fiji sugar strike ends after 16 days

Issue 

Fiji sugar strike ends after 16 days

SUVA, Fiji — A strike by more than 2500 members of the Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union (FSGWU), on strike since July 22, ended on August 5 following threats by the Fiji government and courts. Union members stopped work after rejecting occupational health and safety standards established by the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC).

The strike had crippled operations at the country's four mills, and tonnes of harvested sugar cane had been abandoned on farms. More than 500 workers picketed the Labasa sugar mill.

FSC managing director Jonetani Galuinadi claimed the dispute was about higher wages. The FSC had refused to increase wages because it claims it cannot afford them. FSGWU secretary Felix Anthony denied the strike was linked to wages.

On August 4, Fiji's High Court ordered the strikers to return to work or face contempt of court charges. The court also ordered negotiations over health and safety. On August 1, Fiji's agriculture minister, Militoni Leweniqila, threatened to use a repressive anti-union decree, passed during the coup regime of Sitiveni Rabuka, to force the union back to work.

A mass meeting on August 5 voted to return to work.

[From Pacnews.]