USP staff union call off protest at eleventh hour

USP Staff Union President Rueban Colata (middle in white shirt) informs the union members of the Ministry of Employment's decision to call off the protest. Picture: ROHIT DEO

THE University of the South Pacific Staff Union had to call off its protest march in the eleventh hour after intervention by officials from the Ministry of Employment Relations today.

The march was scheduled for 1pm at the Laucala campus but just minutes prior, the union was advised by ministry officials to hold off the march.

The union executives and members are dissatisfied with the continuous delays and silence in the request of a salary review.

More than 50 members of the staff union were ready for the march only to be told by the union president Rueban Colata they could not precede.

Ministry of Employment Relations Chief Mediator Shane Pickering and Director Labour Standards Atish Kumar were present when the staff were told to call off the protest.

Mr Colata said the union would have a meeting with employers next Wednesday to discuss the issue.

“We have nothing in black and white. Everything is verbal now. They tell us verbally not to have it now without any foundation to have it next Wednesday. Our discussion has not gone anywhere and there is no guarantee it will move on to the next stage next Wednesday,” he said.

The members of the union expressed frustration bursting out comments like: “Not again”; “How much longer”; and “We’re tired of waiting”.

Placards which were prepared for the protest march did not come into use.

USP vice-chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra opted not to comment on the matter saying he had been advised by the Ministry of Employment Relations not to.

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