Anthony expresses concern over comments

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General Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Felix Anthony. Picture: JONA KONATACI

We cannot turn a blind eye to the “inhumane treatment” of foreign workers in Fiji while being concerned about our people being treated fairly in Australia and New Zealand.

Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) general secretary Felix Anthony said this while expressing concern about comments by Carpenters Fiji Ltd managing director Daniel Whippy at the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on the Fijian Economy at the Holiday Inn in Suva on Monday.

Mr Whippy told the forum they had recruited skilled workers like butchers, bakers and mechanics from countries in Bangladesh and Philippines because locals could no longer carry out the work required of them.

He said they kept the foreign workers’ passports.

Mr Anthony said he was shocked to find that such practices existed in the country.

“The International Labour Organization (ILO) definition for this is really force labour where you confiscate travel documents of workers and force them to stay again and work,” he said.

“This is totally unacceptable, and I only hope that Government is going to act on this without delay and to ensure that these workers are treated humanely.

“These workers need to enjoy fair working conditions in accordance with the laws in Fiji.”

Questions sent to Mr Whippy via electronic mail remained unanswered. Employment Minister Agni Deo Singh and acting Employment Ministry permanent secretary Atish Kumar have also not responded to queries on the matter.