Fiji Time: 4:25 AM on Tuesday 23 January

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Caught by surprise

Felix Chaudhary
Sunday, December 17, 2017

AIR Terminal Services Fiji Ltd acting CEO Hare Mani said he was taken by surprise when informed by his management team that workers had walked off their jobs at 1pm yesterday.

"We never got wind of this meeting and it just happened so suddenly," he said.

"I was told at 1pm while I was unloading my shopping and I just couldn't believe they would do such a thing."

About 70 staff members abandoned their posts at 1pm and attended an Air Terminal Services Employees Trust (ATSET) beneficiaries meeting in Waimalika, Nadi.

At the meeting, they joined about 200 ATS workers, who are all shareholders in the company.

Mr Mani labelled the walkout "irresponsible".

"Nadi International Airport is such an important place and to do actions like they have done is really to jeopardise business in the airport.

"And at the same time, the people who feel they are co-owners of the company, would you do this if you owned the company - to jeopardise the company?

"I fail to understand the rationale behind what they are doing but at some stage they will have to pay the price of their indiscretions."

The Acting CEO said three Virgin flights, one Air New Zealand flight and a few Fiji Airways flights were affected through delays. He also defended the action of suspending rostered workers who attended the meeting, and also for authorising the issue of stand-down letters to staff.

"In the first place, they shouldn't have gone out.

"On December 11 they gave us a strike notice which was to fall on Christmas Day and we have told them that your strike notice is illegal because that has been disallowed by the permanent secretary for employment.

"And yesterday, I wrote to FASA national secretary reiterating what I had said, and we sent a bulletin and one of the parts said 'the PS has already declared the mandate obtained by FASA for industrial action as void and as such, any intended action emanating from the voided mandate is unlawful

"All ATS employees are hereby directed not to participate in an unlawful action emanating from the voided mandate.

"Any participation shall be deemed as wilful disobedience to lawful orders given by ATS within the meaning of ERP 33 Section 1 Section D and we will exercise our right to summarily dismiss."

Mr Mani said ATS was available for meaningful dialogue with FASA but "would not do so with a gun pointing to our heads".

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