15 Feb 2003

Fiji unions oppose public sector job cuts

10:09 am on 15 February 2003

One of Fiji's biggest trade unions has warned the government against embarking on plans to cut the size of the public service by up to 2-thousand people a year.

The Fiji Public Servants Association says it would fight any move by the government to lay off public servants at a time when the economy is stagnant and job opportunities almost nil.

The association's general secretary, Rajeshwar Singh, says the government should first consider the 4-thousand positions needed by the different ministries as submitted in their budget estimates before thinking of reducing the workforce.

He says given the current staffing situation in medical, education, police, agriculture and social welfare ministries, the government needs its manpower to enhance services.

Mr Singh says there is no scope for a reduction in the size of the public service.

The Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions, which has three public sector unions under its umbrella, says the public service commission should review its reform plans.

Its president, Maika Namudu, says the economic repercussions of the cut-back on the public servants would be hard.

The cut back was announced within days of the prime minister's statement that unemployment has nearly doubled since 1996.