25 Jul 2007

Fiji nurses picket outside workplaces as strike takes hold

1:41 pm on 25 July 2007

Nurses in Fiji are picketing outside their places of work and nursing stations are being closed down as their strike takes hold.

The Fiji Nurses Association says almost one thousand nurses around the country have walked off their jobs after unsuccessful talks on the restoration of their 5% pay cut.

The Association's general secretary, Kuini Lutua, says she's hoping to hear from the public service commission today but doubts whether there will be further talks with the interim Public Service Minister, Poseci Bune, who has been reported as saying it doesn't bother him if the nurses stay out for twelve months.

Ms Lutua says the nurses won't be holding protest marches but will maintain pickets outside their own areas.

"The plans right now are for members to remain at their picketing sites. We are asking them not to get involved in protests that is not going to be contributing positively to our cause. We do not want any political rallies to be held with our protest."

Kuini Lutua.

Meanwhile, talks are continuing between Mr Bune and the Fiji Council of Trade Unions, or FICTU, in an attempt to avert next week's planned strike.

FICTU, which includes the Fijian Teachers Union, Viti National Union of Taukei Workers and Public Employees Union, have claims similar to the Fiji Nurses Association.

The interim Government has already offered limited concessions but the council has rejected them.