24 Jul 2007

Fiji's Viti national union of Taukei workers denies interim PM's claims

8:31 am on 24 July 2007

The leader of Fiji's Viti National Union of Taukei Workers, Taniela Tabu, is denying any association with criminal elements in their planned strike next week.

The Fiji Sun reports that Mr Tabu's denial comes after the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, said criminal elements planned to use the strike to create instability.

He said the military and the police would deal harshly with those with a hidden agenda to take advantage of the strike.

But Mr Tabu says he does not have any political allegiance to the SDL or any other party.

He says if Commodore Bainimarama claims the union has connections to any political party or criminal elements, he should name them.

Mr Tabu says it would be a sad day if soldiers are brought in to handle striking workers and warned that the international community was watching.

Mr Tabu's union as well as the Public Employees Union and the Fijian Teachers Association plan to go on strike from August the 2nd.

The issues in dispute are the 5% pay cut imposed by the interim governments, the lowering of the retirement age to 55 and the suspension of the Partnership Agreement signed by the deposed government weeks before last year's general election promising 170-million US dollars in pay increases.