Fiji unions to form their own political party | Pacific Beat

Fiji unions to form their own political party

Fiji unions to form their own political party

Updated 27 November 2012, 18:04 AEST

One of Fiji's two peak union bodies has announced it will form its own political party and stand at the elections scheduled for 2014.

The Fiji Trades Union Congress has had an increasingly tense relationship with the Fiji Labour Party in recent years, and there was talk of breaking away earlier this year.

But speaking from an international trade union meeting in Su\ydney, FTUC President Daniel Urai has confirmed to Bruce Hill that the new party will be formed, with details to be announced in two weeks time.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker:Daniel Urai, President of the Fiji Trades Union Congress

URAI: Looking into the announcement that there will be an election, the trade union movement is moving towards organising its own political party to stand up for the elections.

HILL: Are you talking about the trade unions in Fiji organising their own political party?

URAI: Yes.

HILL: What about the Fiji Labour Party which says it stands for the working man?

URAI: The Fiji Trade Union Congress as you know formed the Fiji Labour Party, but over the years the Labour Party has detracted from its intention that it was formed for. It has seemed more like only looking after one ethnic group and just one group of farming community, and its leaders had annouced lately that there's no link between the Labour Party and the Fiji Trade Union Congress.

HILL: If the Fiji Trade Union Congress goes ahead and forms its own political party, given what you're alleging is the government's attitude towards trade unions, do you think the interim government would actually let such a party operate unhindered?

URAI: Well it's about rights, it's about democracy, if you want to bring that back then first rights have to be given back. We cannot have democracy and rights limited to certain groups. We are banking on the fact that because of the international community or various governments now close their involvement with Fiji, that this regime will be directed to follow the norms in terms of human and trade union rights.

HILL: If the trade unions form their own political party though and you stand for these elections in 2014, wouldn't you be tacitly acknowledging the legality of the elections, by participating you're suggesting well this whole thing is ok? Previously you've said whatever this coup-installed military government does is illegal, if you take part in elections you're more or less saying it's ok?

URAI: Well we're between the devil and the deep blue sea. You don't partake, things still move on. If we partake, then we may be able to have some say in the formation of the next government.

HILL: How far advanced are these plans for a political party? Do you have a name yet or national office holders?

URAI: That will be announced probably in a fortnight's time.

HILL: And how much support do you think you might get at the elections in 2014?

URAI: We've done it once, we'll do it again and we know we have support from the workers, not only the workers, but the families of workers and that takes a lot of people around the magnitude of the Fiji population.

HILL: Would an FTUC-backed political party be multi-racial or concentrate on one particular community?

URAI: It will be multi-racial. We are one of the rare organisations in Fiji that has a structure built on multi-racialism.

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