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TITLE:  FIJI HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                              
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Fiji's system of parliamentary democracy, inherited when the 
country gained independence from Great Britain in 1970, was 
interrupted in 1987 with the installation of a military regime 
following two bloodless coups.  Fiji returned to elected 
government in 1992.  That government fell in November 1993 over 
failure to pass a budget for 1994.  A new general election is 
scheduled for February 1994.  

Ethnicity plays a major role in Fiji's politics, economy, and 
society.  Fiji's multiracial society is about evenly divided 
between indigenous Fijians and ethnic Indians.  Indo-Fijians 
dominate the economy and professions and are well represented 
in the lower and middle levels of the public service, while 
ethnic Fijians make up the bulk of the nation's military forces 
and control the political structures.

The small but professional Fiji Military Forces (FMF) and a 
separate police force report to and are under the control of 
the Minister for Home Affairs and, ultimately, the President.  
In 1990 the Government also established the Fiji Intelligence 
Service, with limited powers to search people and property, tap 
telephones, and open mail.

Sugar and tourism constitute the mainstays of the economy, 
accounting for almost half of the nation's foreign exchange 
earnings.  The economy has recovered from the effects of a 
severe decline following the 1987 coups.  The Government is 
promoting light manufacturing for export, notably the garment 
industry, to diversify the economy and lessen its dependence on 
sugar and tourism.

The principal human rights problem in 1993 remained the 
constitutionally imposed and ethnically  based political 
discrimination.  Labor rights disputes stemming from 1991 
legislation greatly ameliorated during the year.  Other human 
rights problems include inhibitions on freedom of the press, 
continued delays in bringing criminal and civil cases to trial, 
and violence and discrimination against women.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no deaths of persons in official custody from other 
than natural causes nor deaths by police or military 
application of force in Fiji in 1993.  There were no reports of 
political killings by the Government or any political group.  

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances in 1993.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Police sometimes physically abuse detainees; the offending 
officers have been punished in some instances, although 
punishments have been light.  The Internal Affairs Unit 
continues to expedite the investigation of such cases and to 
ensure that any complaints against the police are properly 
investigated.  During 1992, 27 officers were charged with a 
variety of offenses.  At year's end, the 15 cases which had 
been dealt with resulted in 4 convictions; 12 cases were 
pending.  Internal police investigation statistics from 1993 
were not available for inclusion in this report.  Corporal 
punishment is permitted by law as a penalty for criminal acts;  
strokes of the cane are administered under medical supervision, 
although this provision is rarely invoked.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

In Fiji the Law of Arrest and Detention broadly follows the 
British model.  Generally, a person may be arrested only if 
there is a reasonable belief that a breach of the criminal law 
has been or is about to be committed.  Arrested persons must be 
brought before a court without "undue delay."  This is taken to 
mean within 24 hours, with 48 hours as the exception (such as 
when an arrest is made over the weekend).  Rules governing 
detention are designed to ensure fair questioning of suspects. 
Defendants have the right to a judicial review of the grounds 
for arrest; in urgent cases, application may be made to a judge 
at any time, whether he is sitting or not.  Incommunicado and 
arbitrary detention are illegal, and none occurred in 1993.

Exile is not practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judicial structure was reorganized under the 1990 
Constitution, but remains similar to the British system.  The 
principal courts in Fiji are the Magistrate Courts, High Court, 
and the Court of Appeal.  The 1990 Constitution also provided 
for a Supreme Court as the court of final appeal, but to date 
it has not been established.  The Court of Appeal is slowly 
reducing the enormous backlog of cases caused by the 
Government's failure to appoint a president for the court until 
December 1991 and the court's consequent inability to convene 
before that time.

There are no special courts; military courts try only members 
of the armed forces.  Magistrate Courts continue to try the 
large majority of cases.  In addition to its jurisdiction in 
serious civil and criminal cases, the High Court is granted 
special interest jurisdiction on behalf of the public and is 
empowered to review alleged violations of individual rights 
guaranteed under the Constitution.

The judiciary is independent under the 1990 Constitution and in 
practice.  There have been no credible reports in 1993 that a 
court was influenced by the executive -- except by legal 
arguments in court.  An example of the courts' independence was 
the decision in the Jim Ah Koy case (see Section 5.a.), in 
which the government lost a hotly debated ethnic registration 

Rights of due process are similar to those found under English 
common law.  The right to public trial is guaranteed, and 
defendants have the right to counsel.  Trials in the High Court 
provide for the presence of assessors (akin to a jury); cases 
in the Magistrate Court do not.  In litigation involving lesser 
complaints, a public legal advisor assists indigents in 
domestic or family law cases.  The right of appeal exists but 
is hampered by continuing delays in the appeals process.  
Normal bail procedures mean that most defendants do not 
experience any pretrial detention.

There are no political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

In general, privacy of the home is respected.  However, the 
Fiji Intelligence Service has powers to search people and 
property, open mail, and tap telephones within specific 
operational guidelines outlined in the government decree which 
created it.  There is no evidence that these powers are being 
abused.  Surveillance of persons believed to represent a 
security threat is carried out to some degree.  Some political 
opponents of the Government believe their telephones and mail 
are monitored, but concrete evidence is lacking.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedom of speech is generally respected.  Political figures 
and private citizens can and do speak out against the 
Government.  Although the Public Order Act and other acts 
prohibit any actions which are likely to incite racial 
antagonism, no arrests for making any kind of public statement 
were reported or believed to have occurred in 1993.

The Government does have broad discretionary powers to impose 
restrictions on press freedom, and it has sometimes done so.  
For example, in 1993 the Government banned television camera 
coverage of the controversial Kermode Commission of Inquiry 
into the wrongful arrest suit and out-of-court settlement in 
the so-called Stephens Affair.  The investigation led to the 
resignation of the Attorney General and implicated the Prime 
Minister and his close advisors.  The Government also 
temporarily banned television from using actual footage of 
parliamentary proceedings.

Legislation pertaining to the press is contained in the 
Newspaper Registration Act (NRA) and the Press Correction Act 
(PCA).  Under the NRA, all newspapers which are sold and 
published in Fiji must be registered with the Government before 
they can begin publishing.  The PCA gives the Minister of 
Information sole discretionary power to order a newspaper to 
publish a "correcting statement" if, in his opinion, a false or 
distorted article has been published.  Should the newspaper 
refuse to publish the Minister's correction, it can be taken to 
court and, if found guilty, fined $700 (individual persons 
convicted under the Act may be fined $150 and/or imprisoned for 
6 months).  The PCA allows the Government to arrest anyone who 
publishes "malicious" material.  This includes any false news 
which could create or foster public alarm or result in the 
"detriment of the public."

Privately owned broadcast and print media operate without prior 
censorship but with considerable self-censorship.  Newspapers 
occasionally print editorials critical of the Government but 
rarely do investigative reporting.  Statements about the 
political situation by opposition figures and foreign 
governments are widely reported.  The letters columns of the 
two daily newspapers also frequently carry political statements 
from members of the deposed government and other persons and 
from groups which are highly critical of the Government, its 
programs, and the Constitution.  Criticism--albeit muted--of 
the once sacrosanct traditional chiefly system is beginning to 
appear.  However, the Government still views comments about 
individual chiefs with disfavor.

An active local organization, the Fiji Islands Media 
Association (FIMA), is an affiliate of the regional Pacific 
Islands News Association (PINA), which held its 1993 convention 
in Fiji for the first time since the 1987 coups.  Both FIMA and 
PINA are pressing for better training and establishment of 
codes of ethics for journalists.  Concerned over possible moves 
by the Government to set up a tribunal for hearing public 
complaints against the media, FIMA is working toward a 
self-regulatory press and media council instead.

The advent of television has raised the specter of censorship, 
openly advocated by the head of the powerful Methodist church 
in Fiji and others.  Moves to replace the temporary television 
service with a permanent arrangement have triggered a serious 
look at television content regulation, heretofore nonexistent.

While academic freedom is respected, the Government has 
effectively deterred university employees from participation in 
Fijian domestic politics.  Since 1991 staff members of the 
University of the South Pacific must take leave if they run for 
public office and must resign from their posts if elected.  
Senior staff may not hold office in political parties.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Assembly for political purposes is allowed but subject to 
restriction in the interest of public order.  Public gatherings 
require permission from the Government's district officers, who 
may obtain prior assessment and advice from the police on the 
anticipated crowd size and the ability of the police to ensure 
public safety.  Permits for large outdoor political meetings or 
demonstrations are not always granted.

There was no government interference with political activities 
during the October 1993 municipal elections.  Permits were 
routinely issued for rallies organized by political parties, 
religious groups, and groups opposed to the Government.  All 
opposition party headquarters remain open.  Political 
organizations are allowed to operate and issue public 
statements.  They did so repeatedly and openly throughout 1993.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion is provided for in the Constitution and 
honored in practice.  The preamble to the Constitution declares 
the importance of Christianity to the Fijian people but 
guarantees protection for all religions.  As part of the 
ongoing constitutional review process, several parliamentarians 
and Methodist church leaders have called for Fiji's status as a 
"Christian nation" to be enshrined in the body of the 

No significant restrictions affect foreign clergy and 
missionary activity or other typical activities of religious 

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

There are no restrictions on freedom of movement within the 
country or abroad.  Occasional detentions at the airport occur, 
but the courts do not hesitate to order redress where this is 
warranted.  Fijian citizens are free to emigrate.  According to 
the best available estimates, over 35,000 have done so since 
May 1987.

Most of the emigrants are Indo-Fijians, many of them 
professionals, but some ethnic Fijians and others also have 
left.  Several thousand have claimed refugee status, especially 
when applying for admission to Canada and after arrival in the 
United States as tourists, but neither the U.N. High 
Commissioner for Refugees nor any government has recognized 
those claims.  In 1992 and 1993, as the economic downturn in 
Australia and New Zealand continued and Fiji moved toward 
restoration of accountable government, several hundred 
well-educated Indo-Fijians who had emigrated in the postcoup 
period returned to Fiji.  There are no refugees in Fiji, and no 
forced resettlement programs.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The right of citizens to change their government is abridged by 
the provision of the 1990 Constitution ensuring political 
dominance by ethnic Fijians, primarily through race-based 
voting rolls and representation in Parliament.  Moreover, the 
Constitution was promulgated by a nonelected interim government 
and has not been approved by a national referendum.

The Constitution guarantees ethnic Fijians dominance of the 
Government by providing them with 37 of 70 seats in the elected 
lower house of Parliament.  Indo-Fijians are accorded 27 seats, 
Rotumans (culturally distinct Polynesians) 1, and all other 
races 5.  In the Senate (an appointed body with essentially 
review powers and the right to veto legislation), ethnic 
Fijians hold 24 of the 34 seats, Rotumans 1, and the other 
groups 9.  Other constitutional features designed to ensure 
ethnic Fijian dominance include a requirement that the Prime 
Minister be an ethnic Fijian and selection procedures which 
virtually ensure that the President will also be an ethnic 

The Constitution also incorporates a bill of rights, providing 
for freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and other 
internationally accepted rights and freedoms.  The section 
setting forth these rights provides that they may not be 
altered by Parliament except with the approval of two-thirds of 
the lower house.  However, elsewhere in the Constitution, 
Parliament is also given the authority to pass special acts to 
deal with certain specified emergency situations, 
notwithstanding human rights guarantees found in other sections 
of that document.  The Attorney General's office has taken the 
view that any legislation introduced under the emergency powers 
provision would require two-thirds approval by the lower house, 
but critics of the Constitution maintain that only a simple 
majority would be needed.  Critics claim that indigenous 
Fijians in the lower house thus would be able, solely on the 
strength of their own numbers, to abrogate constitutional human 
rights protection.

The President is selected by the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC), 
a traditional Fijian leadership body.  He appoints the Fijian 
members of the Senate on the advice of the GCC and the 
provincial councils, and on his own judgment with regard to the 
nine members of other races.  He appoints the one Rotuman 
Senator on the advice of the Rotuman Council.  The Prime 
Minister, who along with the Cabinet holds most of the 
executive authority, is chosen by the President from among the 
Fijian members of the lower house on the basis of his ability 
to command majority support within that body.  

Elections are held by secret ballot, with voting only by 
communal constituencies.  The 1990 Constitution calls for 
elections every 5 years, but the Government may call an 
election at any time.  The Constitution (Article 161) provides 
for a formal review of its provisions within 7 years of its 
promulgation (1997) and every 10 years thereafter.

In 1991 Major General Sitiveni Rabuka, the officer who led the 
1987 coups, resigned as commander of the Fiji Military Forces 
(FMF) and entered the free and fair May 1992 elections (in 
which nearly 80 percent of Fiji's registered voters--both 
ethnic Fijians and Indo-Fijians--participated).  He was 
overwhelmingly elected to Parliament by his local 
constituency.  The President selected him to be Prime Minister 
after Rabuka demonstrated that he commanded majority support in 
the House of Representatives.  When his 1994 budget was 
rejected by Parliament in November 1993, Rabuka asked the 
Acting President to dissolve that body in accordance with the 
Constitution.  Another general election is slated for February 
1994.  The 1993 municipal elections were also free and fair.  
Two of Fiji's major parties are predominantly Indo-Fijian.  
These parties, the National Federation Party (NFP) and the Fiji 
Labour Party (FLP), have pledged to continue their opposition 
of the 1990 Constitution in the Parliament.  

The mandated constitutional review, expected to take until 1997 
to complete, got under way in 1992 with the creation of an 
expanded subcabinet committee led by Deputy Prime Minister 
Bole.  The committee includes representatives of the opposition 
NFP.  It formulated terms of reference, adopted by Parliament 
in September, for an independent review commission, including 
impartial foreign advisors.  The FLP has refused to participate 
in the subcabinet committee, insisting on rapid convening of 
the promised parliamentary select committee whose proceedings 
would be more open and accountable to the Parliament.  The FLP 
walked out of Parliament in June in protest, inter alia, of 
government footdragging in the review process, saying creation 
of the parliamentary select committee could bring them back.  
The FLP returned to the September parliamentary session to 
participate in the debate over the motion setting terms of 
reference for the parliamentary constitutional review 

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

There are no local groups in Fiji which focus solely on human 
rights matters, but the women's rights movement, the labor 
movement, and various political groups are involved in 
promoting a number of human rights causes.  There are also 
several small foreign-based organizations which concentrate on 
human rights causes in Fiji.  These include the Coalition for 
Democracy in Fiji (with offices in New Zealand and Australia) 
and two United Kingdom-based groups, the International Fiji 
Movement and the Movement for Democracy in Fiji.

The Government strongly opposes what it considers external 
interference in its domestic affairs and has invoked this 
principle in the past to inhibit certain investigations of the 
political and human rights situation by external 
organizations.  However, in 1993 foreign representatives were 
allowed to attend both the NFP Annual General Meeting (July) 
and the Fiji Law Society Convention (August) where they roundly 
criticized the 1990 Constitution.  Their opinions were fully 
and prominently covered in the press.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


Although the new Constitution also provides specific 
affirmative action provisions to improve the conditions of 
those disadvantaged as a result of race, sex, place of origin, 
political opinion, color, religion, or creed, the Government 
practices sexual discrimination in the recognition of spousal 
and offspring rights.  For example, spouses of Fiji citizen 
women are not automatically granted residence, whereas spouses 
of Fiji citizen males are.  Offspring of female ethnic Fijians 
married to nonethnic Fijians are not entitled to registry in 
the document governing who shares in income from communal 
ownership of native lands and who has the right to vote as an 
ethnic Fijian and hold ethnic Fijian designated seats in 
Parliament.  Men, however, pass on ethnic Fijian status to 
their offspring regardless of the wife's ethnic background.  In 
a high-profile 1992 court challenge to the registration 
restrictions, the son of a Chinese father and ethnic Fijian 
mother won his appeal to be registered as an ethnic Fijian.  
The long-term effects of the decision on registration 
restrictions and thus a woman's right to pass on her ethnic 
status were not clear by year's end. 

Women in both the Fijian and Indian communities have functioned 
primarily in traditional roles, although some women rise to 
high places in the public service, politics, and business.  
Women can also attain high status in Fiji's traditional chiefly 
system.  The former Prime Minister's wife is, in her own right, 
Fiji's second highest ranking traditional chief.  In general, 
women in the Fijian community are more likely to rise to 
prominence in their own right than are women in the Indian 
community.  Women have full rights of property ownership and 
inheritance, and a number have become successful 
entrepreneurs.  Women are generally paid less than men, a 
discrepancy that is especially notable in the garment 
industry.  Garment workers, most of whom are female, are 
subject to a special minimum wage considerably lower than that 
in other sectors.

There is a small but active women's rights movement, which has 
pressed for more serious treatment of rape in the courts.  The 
crime tends to draw widely varying but usually short prison 
sentences (a few years).  Within the same month, one case 
involving a 16-year-old victim resulted in a 6-year sentence 
and three strokes of the cane (allowed by law), while another 
convicted rapist was merely fined the equivalent of $200 and 
put on probation.  

Domestic violence is also a problem in Fiji and is a second 
major focus of the women's movement.  The authorities are 
generally reluctant to intervene in cases of domestic violence 
unless it is necessary to save the woman's life.  Few cases 
result in prosecution, as the victim generally does not press 
charges.  The Government has not been active in dealing with 
domestic violence.

Suva, the capital, and the regional center of Ba have privately 
funded women's crisis centers which offer counseling and 
assistance to women in cases of rape, domestic violence, and 
other problems, such as child support payments.  There is, 
overall, a growing awareness of women's issues, with Fiji 
playing host to several women's rights' conferences and 
workshops during the year.


Changes centered around the undermining of the traditional 
village and extended family based society--and great 
improvements in record keeping--have revealed a major problem 
of child abuse in Fiji.  Reported cases of abuse or neglect 
have jumped from 365 in 1990 to 619 by August of 1993.  The 
Fijian legal system is inadequate to protect the rights of 
children, with children's evidence being inadmissible unless 
corroborated by an adult.  The Government created a child 
welfare committee this year to address these problems, but it 
is likely to remain reluctant to become involved in family 

Children have not had an exalted place in Fiji, particularly in 
ethnic Fijian families.  Children eat only after first fathers 
and then mothers have eaten their fill.  Education is not 
mandatory in Fiji; most primary and secondary schools are 
managed and funded by the local community, social 
organizations, or church groups.  Currently, the Government 
provides only some 5 percent of the schools--although it does 
support the salaries of the majority of teachers even in 
private schools.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The stated purpose of the 1987 military coups was to ensure the 
political supremacy of the indigenous Fijian people and to 
protect their traditional way of life and communal control of 
land.  To this end a number of measures have been taken that 
favor the Fijian community over the other ethnic groups.  The 
most obvious are the apportionment of seats in Parliament to 
guarantee a preponderance of ethnic Fijians and constitutional 
provisions ensuring selection of an ethnic Fijian President and 
Prime Minister.  The Government is also committed to raising 
the proportion of ethnic Fijians and Rotumans in the public 
service to 50 percent or more at all levels.  This is reflected 
in current promotion and hiring policies in the public service 
favoring ethnic Fijians.  It has resulted in some Indo-Fijians 
complaining of a "glass ceiling" whereby, despite their 
experience and higher educational achievements, they are not 
promoted beyond middle management.

Control of land is a highly sensitive issue in Fiji.  About 83 
percent of the land is held communally by indigenous Fijians.  
Most cash crop farmers are Indo-Fijians, who lease their land 
from the Fijian landowners through the Native Lands Trust 
Board.  The present land ownership arrangements were instituted 
by the British to protect the interests of the indigenous 
Fijians.  Freehold land title is not an indigenous concept; 
lands owned currently by the State (8 percent) and by 
individuals (9 percent) were transferred from customary owners 
during the colonial period.  Many Indo-Fijians, particularly 
farmers, believe that the absence of secure land tenure 
discriminates against them.  Between 1997 and 2000, the 
majority of the current leases will expire.  A review of the 
current land tenure/leasing arrangements is under way. 

Indo-Fijians are subject to occasional harassment and crime 
based on race, which is compounded by inadequate police 
protection.  There have been no credible allegations of 
government involvement in such incidents, and the police have 
investigated and, where possible, arrested lawbreakers.

     People with Disabilities

There is no legal discrimination against physically disabled 
persons in employment, education, and provision of other state 
services in Fiji.  Limited special education facilities are 
provided in the capital.  The Fiji Disabled People's 
Association, a small voluntary organization based in Suva, is 
pushing for better health care and special education for the 
disabled.  There are no mandated provisions of accessibility 
for the disabled.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Workers' rights to form and join unions, elect their own 
representatives, publicize their views on labor matters, and 
determine their own policies are protected by law and observed 
in practice.  However, the law permits restrictions to be 
applied on government employees in the interests of defense, 
public safety, public order, public morality, or public health, 
and to protect the rights and freedoms of other persons.  About 
19 percent of the labor force is unionized.

All unions must register with, but are not controlled by, the 
Government.  The only national labor federation is the Fiji 
Trade Union Congress (FTUC), which was closely associated with 
the opposition FLP until mid-1992.  The FTUC is free to 
associate internationally and does so.  The labor movement is 
led largely by Indo-Fijians.  Persons with close ties to the 
Government have started rival unions primarily for ethnic 
Fijians; these unions are more amenable to political 
cooperation with the Government.

Following several years in which labor-government relations 
were marred by confrontational tactics, the 1992 return to 
elected government marked the beginning of a more cooperative 

In November 1991, the interim government had created 
considerable antagonism when it passed, as part of its economic 
package, certain labor "reforms" (Decrees 42, 43, and 44) which 
unilaterally altered the role of the labor unions and regulated 
internal union matters.  The Fiji trade unions rejected the 
decrees and sought support from the international labor 
movement to convince the Government to rescind the decrees.  
The Committee on Freedom of Association of the International 
Labor Organization (ILO) in November 1992 recommended specific 
changes to the Fijian "reforms" to restore the rights Fijian 
workers and their unions had enjoyed previously.

The Rabuka Government undertook to find ways to reestablish a 
dialog with the unions.  In September 1992, the new Minister of 
Labour and Industrial Relations took concrete steps to address 
the unions' concerns, including formal recognition of the FTUC 
and a public pledge to review the interim Government's 
"reforms" and a further pledge to eliminate those aspects of 
the decrees considered objectionable by labor.

In December 1992, the automatic dues checkoff system through 
which nearly all unions received their operating funds was 
reinstated (satisfying a pressing demand of the FTUC).  In July 
1993, the Cabinet agreed in principle to remove the most 
offensive of the 1991 labor "reforms" which had been the 
subject of the ILO recommendations and the GSP review process, 
but implementing legislation had not made its way through the 
system by year's end.  One 1991 regulation, that prohibited 
union leaders from holding multiple union offices, has been 
eliminated by the July 1993 Cabinet decisions.  This action 
canceled a court case pending against former FTUC union head 
and Indo-Fijian political leader, Mahendra Chaudhry.  

Strikes are legal in Fiji.  However, the 1991 right-to-strike 
decrees are still in effect.  Strikes are banned in connection 
with union recognition disputes.  Once a recognized union votes 
to strike, that vote is valid for 6 weeks.  If the union has 
not gone out on strike before the 6 week deadline, another vote 
must be taken.  There is no current limit on the length of a 
strike.  The Government is involved in certifying union 
balloting, which can be an elaborate process given the distance 
between some of the island locations in the country.  The 
largest strike (involving some 500 workers) of 1993 took place 
at the Pafco fish-canning facility in Levuka over working 
conditions and leadership.  Local chiefs, the Ministry of 
Labor, and the company negotiated a settlement after 10 days.  
The most noteworthy strike was the September 6 walkout by dock 
workers in Suva, in protest of the Port Authority's contracting 
out of stevedoring at the Lautoka Wharf.  Once the authority 
chairman was replaced by the Government, work resumed.  The 
strike by the Fiji Mine Workers' Union (FMWU) at the Vatukoula 
gold mine which began in 1991 continued.  A rival union, the 
Mine Workers' Council (MWC), was organized and recognized by 
both the new management and the Government when it garnered 
membership from more than half the work force.  After 
considerable legal action and appeals by the FMWU and mine 
management, the courts decided that the MWC was the valid 
representative of the workers.  The FTUC has decried the MWC as 
an "in-house" union;  fired FMWU members continued to occupy 
mine company housing.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law recognizes the right to organize and bargain 
collectively.  Employers are required to recognize a union if 
more than half the employees in a workplace have joined it.  
Recognition is determined by union membership numbers rather 
than by an election.  The Government has the power to order 
recalcitrant employers to recognize unions and has done so.  
Key sectors of the economy, including sugar and tourism, are 
heavily organized.  Following the May 1992 elections, the 
Government lifted wage guidelines and unrestricted collective 
bargaining on wages is now the norm.

Wage negotiations are conducted on an individual company or 
enterprise basis rather than on an industrywide basis.  A 
Government proposal to introduce such industry-wide 
negotiations has been opposed by employers and unions.  Union 
leaders fear that straight market-based wage bargaining would 
open unacceptably large wage gaps between skilled and unskilled 
workers.  Until 1984 a tripartite forum of employers, unions, 
and government oversaw labor negotiations.  In that year, 
however, labor withdrew from the forum and it was abolished.  
The body was restored in June 1993 as the Economic Strategies 
Committee, but the FTUC has refused to participate.  

Antiunion discrimination is specifically prohibited by Fijian 
law.  In practice, the unions are generally successful in 
preventing discrimination against workers for union activities, 
but the law does not mandate that such workers be reinstated.

Fiji's export processing zones are subject to the same laws as 
the rest of the country, and many of their firms have unions 
which have negotiated collective bargaining agreements.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution specifically prohibits forced labor, and there 
is no indication that it is practiced.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Children underage 12 may not be employed in any capacity. 
"Children" (under age 15) and "young persons" (ages 15 to 17) 
may not be employed in industry or work with machinery.  
Enforcement by the Ministry of Labour and Industrial Relations 
generally is effective, except in the case of family members 
working on family farms or businesses.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

No national minimum wage has been established.  Certain sectors 
have minimum wages set by the Ministry for Labour and 
Industrial Relations.  For example, garment workers' hourly 
wages are at $0.49 ($F0.72) for learners and $0.62 ($F0.94)  
for all others.  In the tourism sector, the minimum hourly wage 
starts at $0.91 ($F1.37).  Office workers may earn as much as 
$1.12 ($F1.68) as a starting hourly salary.  Skilled heavy 
machinery operators earn in the range of over $1.49 ($F2.21) 
per hour.  These minimum wages are effectively enforced and 
generally support a barely adequate standard of living in all 
sectors except the garment industry, in which the starting wage 
is based on the assumption that workers are young adults or 
married women living at home and not supporting a household.

Fiji has no regulation specifying maximum hours of work for 
adult males.  Women are prohibited from night work in factories 
(other than overtime work in the garment industry) and 
underground work in mines.  Certain industries, notably 
transportation and shipping, have problems with excessive hours 
of work.  Indo-Fijians, who generally require a cash income to 
survive, are more vulnerable to pressure to work long hours 
than ethnic Fijians.  Many ethnic Fijians can and do return to 
a noncash economy way of life in their villages rather than 
work what they consider to be excessive hours.

Fiji has workplace safety regulations, a Workmen's Compensation 
Act, and an Accident Compensation Plan.  Awards for workers 
injured on the job are set by a tribunal.  Government 
enforcement of safety standards under the direction of the 
Labour Ministry suffers from a lack of trained enforcement 
personnel, but the unions do a reasonable job of monitoring 
safety standards in organized workplaces.  The ILO's November 
1992 recommendations cited the need to improve working 
conditions.  Problems are particularly widespread in the 
garment industry.

[end of document]


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