18 Jan 2018

Australian unions rally for locked-out Fiji workers

3:40 pm on 18 January 2018

Australian unionists are protesting outside Fiji's consulate in Sydney today in support of Fijian airport workers locked out of their workplace.

Australian unionists protesting outside Fiji's consulate in Sydney in support of Fijian airport workers.

Australian unionists protesting outside Fiji's consulate in Sydney in support of Fijian airport workers. Photo: Supplied/ ITF Asia Pacific

220 aviation ground handling staff have been locked out at Nadi International Airport since mid-December by their employer Air Terminal Services or ATS.

The workers - who are 49 percent shareholders in ATS - were locked out for attending an emergency union meeting called to discuss concerns about their working conditions.

Concerns include an eleven-year pay freeze and allegations of sexual harassment.

Today's rally in Sydney was organised by the International Transport Workers' Federation.

Its president Paddy Crumlin has urged the Fijian government - which is the majority shareholder in ATS - to take urgent action to end the lockout and allow workers to return to their jobs.

According to Mr Crumlin, Fiji's government has the power to resolve this dispute and that this is a matter of urgency with the livelihoods of hundreds of workers and their families on the line.

A letter by Mr Crumlin to the Fijian Consulate will be delivered at the rally. In it, he urges the government to "act to end this crisis and ensure that safety concerns don't cause travellers to think twice about visiting Fiji".

Last week, RNZ Pacific revealed temporary staff failed to report superficial damage sustained by an Air New Zealand aircraft while on the tarmac in Nadi.

The ITF is calling on the Government of Fiji to resolve this situation without delay by:

  • Allowing all workers to return to work without any loss in conditions;
  • Ensuring that workers do not suffer any financial loss for the period of the dispute;
  • Commitments that no worker will be victimized for their participation in the dispute;
  • Agree to a timeline to resolve all other issues, in particular the workers' cost of living adjustments

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