Youth activist arrested during a peaceful protest
On 26th June 2017 - the international day in support of victims of torture - Jope Koroisavou, a youth activist and president of the youth chapter of Fiji’s opposition political party - Social Democratic Liberal Party, staged a solo peaceful protest to commemorate victims of torture in Fiji. Police arrested Koroisavou, while he stood holding a sign with victims’ names on it. He was later released without any formal charges.
In a statement on Koroisavou's arbitrary arrest while exercising his fundamental right to protest, Amnesty International expressed:
“Instead of cracking down on peaceful protest, the Fijian authorities should be cracking down on torture. On a day when the world is remembering the victims of torture, the Fijian authorities are arresting people for carrying a sign with their names”.
On 4th July 2017, key representatives of public sector unions, namely the Fiji Public Service Association, Fiji Teachers Union, Fiji Nursing Association, Fijian Teachers Association and the National Union of Public Employees, exercised their right to association by organising collectively around a common issue affecting their constituents. The group filed disputes with Fiji’s Department of Labour on the government's decision to require all civil servants with permanent status to sign five-year contracts before they could receive a salary increase.
The unions consider this a regressive measure as it changes the permanent contract of workers to only a five-year one. In addition, they consider it an illegal measure to base salary increases on signing of new contracts. Union representatives have spoken out condemning the decision. In particular, the Fiji Teachers Union reported in the Fiji Times that the "Fiji Government is in breach of Section 189 of the ERP (Amendment) Act No.1 of 2016 and 2013 Fiji Constitution, which means collective bargaining does not exist in the civil service".
Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry also stated in regards to the authorities' requirements on labour contracts:
"They are using strong arm tactics to impose shorter term contracts on civil servants in return for pay increases … This is not only unethical but also unlawful. Employers are bound by the employment contracts of their employees. They cannot just arbitrarily terminate existing contracts or force a change to newer contracts to the disadvantage of the employees".