12 Feb 2003

Fight continues for better conditions at Fiji's tuna cannery

4:55 pm on 12 February 2003

The Fiji Council of Trade Unions says it expects a decision this month from the arbitration tribunal over a wage dispute at the state-owned tuna cannery.

The CTU's secretary-general, Attar Singh, says conditions for 700 workers at Pacific Fishing company or PAFCO, have been very bad for a very long time.

Employees, who are reported to be living below the poverty line, are paid 82 U.S. cents an hour and haven't received any cost-of-living increases for 20 years.

Mr Singh says once the tribunal makes a decision, he hopes the PAFCO board abides by it.

"Whether or not the employer would abide by that is a big question but we certainly would expect the government after having faced such embarrassement and after this matter being in the media almost on a weekly basis that the government of the day would rise to the occasion and order its board to do something better for the workers than they have in the past."

Mr Singh says different minimum wages are set by minimum wage councils for each industry but they are heavily weighted in the employers' interest because they are government appointed.