Call to step down

THE Air Terminal Services issue was mishandled by Government and Employment and Industrial Relations Minister Jone Usamate should have stepped down as a result of it.

This was the statement by National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad in Parliament last week Thursday.

“We all know the ATS saga and the lockout by the management lasted for 34 days,” he said.

“That was a badly handled strike by the Government.

“Within a few hours of the action, the Honourable Minister declared it illegal as a strike when in fact it was not a strike.

“Yet, he failed to declare the lockout illegal and order the workers back to work. He could have ordered the workers back to work because the lockout was illegal.

“The tribunal’s orders, confirmed that, the workers were told to return to work without any victimisation and with no loss of pay for the 34 days, except for the few hours they had attended the meeting.”

Prof Biman was referring to the ruling by Employment Relations Tribunal resident magistrate Andrew See which was delivered on Saturday January 21 in Nadi.

“It was a great victory for the workers, their families and actually it was a slap on the Government and the Honourable Minister.

“In a genuine democracy, the Honourable Minister would have quit after this colossal failure, in fact he should have.”

Questions sent to Mr Usamate on Friday on the issue remain unanswered.