Barber accuses plan to elect dictator as head of International Sugar Organisation as staggeringly naive or grossly irresponsible

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The TUC has condemned plans by the London-based International Sugar Organisation (ISO) to make the military dictator of Pacific micro-state Fiji its chair this week, despite his government breaking the ISO’s own rules.

Commenting on the soon-to-be-announced decision, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The International Sugar Organisation is either staggeringly naive or grossly irresponsible. The plan to elect Fiji’s Prime Minister to chair the body leaves a very sour taste in the mouth.”

Despite being suspended from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum because of the military coup that brought Commodore Frank Bainimarama to power in 2006, he could soon end up as chair of the international trade body for the sugar industry. The TUC says that this is the sort of election that the Prime Minister has denied ordinary Fijians since he overthrew Fiji’s previous government.

The ISO’s rules require member states – like Britain and Fiji – to grant fair labour standards to sugar workers. But earlier this month, employers, unions and governments on the governing body of the UN agency for workers’ rights (the International Labour Organisation) adopted a resolution condemning Fiji for its abuses of workers’ rights, both in its sugar mills and its sugar cane plantations.

The International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), which includes Fijian sugar workers in its membership, is demanding that the ISO refuses to elect Prime Minister Bainimarama as its chair, and refuses to hold meetings in Fiji until democracy and workers’ rights are restored.


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