31 Jul 2007

Fiji's Cabinet to consider demands by three unions

8:35 am on 31 July 2007

Fiji's interim Cabinet will meet today to consider the demands of three public sector unions which are threatening to go on strike from Thursday.

The Fijian Teachers Association, the Public Employees Union and the Viti National Union of Taukei Workers want the 5% pay cut imposed in March to be restored from tomorrow.

They also want the retirement age to remain at 60 rather than 55 and the retention of the Partnership Agreement signed by the deposed government promising pay increases of 170-million US dollars over several years.

The Fiji Nurses Association has already been on strike for a week over similar issues.

The interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has already said the government cannot afford to meet these demands and stay within its guidelines to keep the budget deficit below 2%.

Meanwhile, the deposed opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, says the interim administration should adjust its Revised 2007 Budget and partly restore civil servants salaries to end the nurses' strike and avoid other imminent industrial, action.

Mr Beddoes says he will not argue about the critical state of government finances, but adds that with some adjustments to budget allocations it is possible to end the industrial dispute.