Saturday, March 17, 2007

Fiji: coming to a head

After four months, things may be coming to a head in Fiji.

One of the military regime's first moves on seizing office (other than beating and intimidating its critics into silence) was to try and balance the budget. The preferred method for this was by radically dropping the retirement age, reneging on an agreed cost of living adjustment, and slashing public sector pay and conditions. Naturally, the public service wasn't happy with that, and today 92% of the Fiji Public Servants Association voted to go on strike. The other public sector unions are expected to follow suit over the next two weeks - meaning 20,000 public servants will walk off the job, effectively paralysing the government.

The military (whose wages were not cut) is unlikely to tolerate this. They have claimed that the state of emergency (which they coincidentally extended last week) bars strikes, and claim to have "plans to counter any strike action". Given their past action, this will likely involve detaining and beating strike leaders, or prosecuting them for violating emergency regulations (not that anyone has been prosecuted yet - they've simply been illegally detained and assaulted). But its difficult to see how this will improve the situation - and it could lead to the first real protests against the regime.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see how things turn out...


This is terrible :-(

Thanks for your coverage, I wish it wasn't so grim, but that's hardly your fault now Idsy.

Fiji has been so poorly served by past coups, and this one seems even worse. I just cannot see a way out of this that is good.

Posted by Span : 3/18/2007 10:34:00 AM