THE International Labour Organisation has raised concerns regarding the incident where a high-powered delegation from the organisation was asked to leave the country yesterday.
According to the ILO, a direct contacts mission on freedom of association left Fiji without completing its mandate.
A statement from ILO said the incident was unexpected.
It said that the ILO had been visiting Fiji at the invitation of the government in light of various complaints made by the trade unions.
“It began its program on Monday, September 17, based on already-agreed terms of reference with the government and with an agreed list of senior public officials and representatives from the employers’ organisation and national trade union centres,” it said.
“In the midst of its first meeting, with the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, the mission was asked to desist from its remaining meetings until further notice.”
The statement said on Tuesday evening, the Office of the Prime Minister presented the mission with entirely new terms of reference arguing that unfortunately, as a result of miscommunication between the respective Fijian ministries, the terms of reference provided by the Ministry of Labour did not articulate the correct scope of such a visit.
ILO director-general Juan Somavia strongly condemned the government’s unilateral decision.
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the Fijian government had a policy of openness and transparency to outside scrutiny by organisations such as the ILO.
“We welcome such visits as long as they are conducted by an independent delegation with no predetermined outcomes and a focused agenda,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
He said the ILO delegation in question was not “ejected”, “expelled”, “deported” or forced to depart Fiji in any way.
“In order to make way for the next ILO visit under the terms of reference provided to the ILO delegation on Monday, they were asked to leave at their earliest opportunity.”
He said the Fijian government would be pleased to welcome an ILO visit that aimed to produce an objective evaluation of the issues set out in the terms of reference. He said such an ILO visit would “be welcomed to Fiji if they arrive tomorrow or anytime in the future”.