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Strike notice

Ana Madigibuli
Friday, May 16, 2014

THE University of the South Pacific Staff Union has filed a 21-day notice to take a strike mandate from its members over the university's decision to withdraw in-house medical services for all staff.

USP staff union secretary Litiana Waqalevu said USP engaged a broker in consultation with an insurance provider to provide medical services to all staff.

Ms Waqalevu said their agreement signed in 2012, by the university vice- chancellor on behalf of the university and the union officials, had clauses that was agreed to by the two parties that medical services — which includes consultations, medications, inpatient, hospitalisation, referrals to specialists, referrals to Suva Private Hospital and evacuation — that would be provided free to all staff.

She said should the clause be changed, either party may include this in their log of claims to make amendments or change the binding clauses.

"The union accepted the medical clauses as is but the university did not honour its end of the bargain and negotiated and made decisions outside of the agreement," Ms Waqalevu said.

"Our staff were forced under duress to sign deduction forms that will allow our payroll office to deduct insurance premiums to the insurance provider.

"Those who did not sign up forms because we advised them against signing are now facing discrimination from the university."

She said the union had written to the vice-chancellor regarding the breach of the agreement but there had been no response.

The USP, in a statement, confirmed that the two parties had been called to attend an informal mediation by the Ministry of Labour yesterday.

It further stated that because of this, it would not make any public statement as yet.

The university also stated that it looked forward to a positive resolution through the mediation process.

Further attempts to obtain updates from the union and the university yesterday afternoon were unsuccessful.





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