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Singh: Unions will support ATS workers

Shayal Devi
Sunday, January 14, 2018

THE CONFEDERATION of Public Sector Unions (CPSU) general secretary Rajeshwar Singh has reiterated that unions will continue to support the more than 200 Air Terminal Services Workers (ATS) who are locked in an impasse with their management for 28 days now.

Speaking to the thousands who marched in Nadi yesterday, Mr Singh drew a parallel of the situation now with a similar one that had occurred in 1999.

Referring to another impasse as "Case 500", he said they always carried the event in their hearts.

"On July 1, 1998, the new airport company Airports Fiji Ltd (AFL) became operational and in February, 1999, the Civil Aviation Act came into force under structural reforms," he said.

He said it was in April, 1999, that workers experienced an impasse when they were handed lockout notices.

"On Sunday, April 11, Camp 500 began at the FPSA office in Martintar, and members stopped work from Sunday midnight.

"Within minutes, a 737 took off without rescue cover, flights in the morning continued and firemen were flown in from New Zealand to come and take up the airport firefighters' job. See how it is happening? This is happening to you.

"The first few days in camp were difficult. The voting for the general election commenced on May 8, 1999, and a change of government was inevitable.

"It was well accepted by most members that the struggle had become political, it could not be resolved until there was a change in government and on the last day of the election, termination letters were issued by AFL to our members. More than 500 members were issued termination letters."

He said the then leader of the Labour Party had promised to get the workers back to work when the coalition party won, which was what happened.

"I know 27 days is a long time and we are with you and we will be with you. It can be long and difficult but we will not withdraw. We will fight and we will win, and I salute all of you, our colleagues."

Attempts to get comments from ATS, the PM's Office, ATS chairperson and A-G were unsuccessful.

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