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National strike threat

Felix Chaudhary
Sunday, December 31, 2017

THE Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) says it will call for a national strike if the Air Terminal Services (ATS) issue is not resolved soon.

National secretary Felix Anthony made the statement after the FTUC national council emergency meeting in Nadi yesterday.

He said in a build-up to the national strike, the FTUC was preparing to hold a march through Nadi Town to highlight the ongoing plight of 250 ATS workers and the issues that had led to the impasse with management, which has entered its 15th day.

"We are working towards the national strike and we have the support of our affiliates, 21 out of 28 members were present at the meeting," Mr Anthony said.

"Immediately, we are preparing to hold a national march through Nadi Town on January 13 and we are inviting everyone who supports our brothers and sisters in ATS to show solidarity and join us."

Confederation of Public Sector Unions general secretary Rajeshwar Singh said while Government and management continued to play games at great risk and cost to ATS, the workers remained united in their cause.

"I think 11 years of trying to talk and negotiate is more than enough," he said.

"These workers have given management 11 years to sort out cost of living wage adjustments and other issues including gross mismanagement by the acting CEO and his team and in response the management has removed the workers representatives from the ATS board.

"This action has been aided and abetted by Government and that is why we decided to hold an emergency meeting.

"We have resolved to concentrate more on international solidarity and the International Transport Workers Federation will tighten its campaign internationally through the International Civil Aviation Organisation."

ATS workers, who have a 49 per cent stake in the company, held an emergency meeting on Saturday, December 16 to discuss serious issues facing the company including the possible sale of their 49 per cent stake without their knowledge or consent.

When about 70 of the employees who left their posts attempted to return to work after the three-hour meeting, they were informed they had been issued stand down letters and were locked out of the premises.

In a show of solidarity for their colleagues, other ATS workers joined the workers, who had been stood down.

Despite visits by A-G and Minister for Civil Aviation Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Employment Minister Jone Usamate and mediation facilitated by the Employment and Industrial Relations Ministry, the impasse has continued and has entered its 15th day.

Several attempts to get comments from Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Mr Usamate and the ATS management and board chairperson yesterday proved futile.

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