6 Jul 2002

Fiji aviation workers threaten strike ahead of ACP meeting

9:31 am on 6 July 2002

Three days of talks in Fiji to avert a strike by staff of the national airline, Air Pacific, have failed.

The strike is due to begin next Friday, just days ahead of a summit of leaders from the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries who will meet in Nadi the following week.

The industrial action will be called by the Fiji Aviation Workers Association which says some of the issues in dispute go back to 1999.

The Association's secretary, Attar Singh, says they have offered to return to voluntary arbitration on all issues and for both parties to abide by whatever decision the tribunal makes.

But Air Pacific has not responded and will not make any comment on the talks.

Mr Singh says voluntary arbitration is the only way a strike could be avoided.

If it goes ahead, the strike could bring almost the entire airline industry to a halt and disrupt the ACP summit as well as peak season tourist travel when planes are reported to be flying full.

While the talks have failed to find a solution, the labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, says the two parties are still talking.