2 Aug 2007

Fiji public sector worker strike hits schools

2:11 pm on 2 August 2007

In Fiji, lessons have been cancelled and some children have stayed home from school after teachers walked out of the classroom this morning over a pay dispute.

The four thousand members of the Fijian Teachers Association joined members of the Public Employees Union and the Viti National Union of Taukei Workers who have also taken industrial action.

Janine Sudbury has the latest.

"The strike began at 8 o'clock this morning as teachers all over the country left their classrooms. It's not yet clear how many have joined the action but the Fijian Teachers Association has 4,200 members and says that a small number of teachers from the Fiji Teachers Union have joined their action. Over 3,000 public employees have also walked off their jobs from 44 government ministries and departments covering services including water and sewerage. The remaining 2,500 are joining the action tomorrow.The Acting General Secretary of the Public Employees Union, Malakai Du'u says they want to go to arbitration - a move which has been stymied by Commodore Bainimarama who has instructed the interim minister for labour, Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau to refuse. Mr Du'u says that's because the government is afraid it would lose. The 600 members of the Viti National Union of Taukei Workers are also taking industrial action. Meanwhile, the unions representing the striking workers are in a meeting to determine further action and reject government claims their action is politically motivated."