The FTUC Executive Board held an Emergency meeting this afternoon at 3pm. This meeting was interrupted by at least 8 Criminal Investigations Department officials who came to search the office of the FTUC National Secretary and the Headquarters. The National Secretary was also brought to the FTUC Headquarters for the search. the meeting reconvened at 6.40pm after the search according to a press release by FTUC.
FTUC says that the Board unanimously noting that:
- The National Secretary Felix Anthony continues to be unlawfully detained,
- Several trade union leaders, the 29 union members and 2 union staff were harassed and unlawfully detained, of these 2 trade union leaders and 1 union staff have since been released.
- The continued intimidation of union members and workers by the police at centers around the country particularly the FTUC Headquarters where police were present throughout the day,
- Refusal of permit by the Fiji Roads Authority to use the road for the Protest March planned for Saturday, 4th of May 2019.
- Questioning of FTUC Staff and search of the HQ Premises, all offices and confiscation of storage devices, documents and computer.
FTUC says that the Board has decided to defer the May 3rd Protest & May 4th Protest March until further notice.
“The Board is confident that the FTUC has already received huge media attention than had been initially anticipated both locally and internationally. The FTUC will continue to lobby for the six issues that have been part of its campaign for the past years.”
“The Board also acknowledges the continued immense support from local and international institutions, affiliates of the FTUC, the international and regional trade union fraternity, civil society organizations and the general public, well wishers and legal fraternity. We receive with gratitude the initiatives of our supporters worldwide to exert pressure for the release of our national trade union leader.”
“All affiliates, and those solidarity-support institutions that participate in our protests are strongly urged to take note of the deferment of the two planned activities and await further advice.”
Meanwhile two of the four unionists who were being questioned by Police have been released.
Acting Police Chief of Intelligence, Bitukula Waqanui says that Fiji Nursing Association General Secretary, Salanieta Matiavi and Fiji Trades Union Congress official, Shiu Lingam have been released.
Waqanui had earlier said that they were being investigated for alleged breaches of the law.
Fiji Trades Union Congress National Secretary, Felix Anthony and Fijian Teachers Association General Secretary Paula Manumanunitoga are still being questioned.
FTUC says Anthony also spent the night in custody at Nabua Police Station after being questioned at the Criminal Investigations Department in Suva.
Anthony was in a tripartite meeting with the Ministry of Employment, International Labour Organization and the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation when he was taken in for questioning by Police yesterday afternoon.
Acting Police Chief of Intelligence, Bitukula Waqanui says Anthony was taken in yesterday in relation to alleged breach of the Public Order Act.