27 Jul 2005

Tongan government ponders response to strikers

7:46 pm on 27 July 2005

The Tongan government has made its first official response to the demands of thousands of striking public servants.

The ministers of health and finance and the Governor of Vava'u spoke on Radio Tonga, saying government attention has been raised by the strike which started last week.

The government spokesmen said the workers demands of up to 80 percent wage rises were being looked at.

However, our correspondent in Tonga, Mateni Tapueluelu, says there was also a warning in the broadcast.

"They've given a warning that it will have a negative effect on the economy of Tonga because it will subseqently pull up other salaries in the private sector, which in turn will make the cost of living in Tonga more expensive than ever. That is their theory."

Mateni Tapueluelu says the government only said they were looking into the demands and no promises were made, although department heads have been asked to provide the salaries for their respective areas.

Earlier, the interim Public Servants Association had given the government until the end of Wednesday to meet their demands.