20 Jul 2002

Fiji aviation workers step up industrial action against Air Pacific

10:01 am on 20 July 2002

The Fiji Aviation Workers Association has begun partial industrial action at the national airline, Air Pacific, following a breakdown in talks over issues in dispute.

The action consists of a work to rule, overtime ban, go slow and withdrawl of goodwill and co-operation by nearly 400 members of the association.

It follows individual action by members, up to 80 per cent of whom earlier reported sick, forcing the cancellation and rescheduling of flights.

The Manager of Air Pacific, John Campbell says the campaign of ringing in sick resulted in the cancellation of two flights out of Suva to Christchurch and Auckland.

He says contingency plans formed in anticipation of industrial action by the Fiji Aviation Workers Association were quickly put in place.

Mr Campbell says ex-pilots, cabin staff and engineers as well as non-union workers were called in to fill the worker shortfall.

"We have about 225 cabin staff and we have in the order of 110 management staff and volunteers so, in the last couple of weeks we've been putting them back through their emergency procedures training and getting them re-certified to fly."

John Campbell says all international flights will leave out of Nadi and there will be some delays.

The association has agreed not to disrupt flights carrying the returning leaders taking part in the summit of the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in Nadi, but says it has not been given relevant information.

The European Union aid commissioner, Pascal Lamy, who was in Fiji for the ACP summit and talks on the sugar industry, cut short his visit and left the country early to avoid being held up.

Meanwhile the government says it is considering referring the dispute to compulsory arbitration.