26 Jul 2002

Fiji party calls for end of Air Pacific strike

10:51 am on 26 July 2002

The leader of Fiji's United General Party, Mick Beddoes, has appealed to striking Air Pacific workers to return to work.

Mr Beddoes, who operates a tourist industry business, says the strike has no moral justification but borders on grandstanding.

He says the strikers are holding the country to ransom with their continued refusal to return to work.

Mr Beddoes says Fiji's tourist industry is dependent on Air Pacific to carry 60 percent of the country's tourists.

He says strike action would be justified if members of a union are deprived of a fair and just income.

But he says Air Pacific employees are among the best paid in the work force with an average wages 300 percent higher than their tourism industry counterparts.

Talks to resolve a strike by employees of Fiji's national airline, Air Pacific, have stalled.

The airline says it has obtained an injunction restraining executives of the Fiji Aviation Workers Association from encouraging members from going on strike.

But the association's secretary, Attar Singh, says he is complying with the injunction which does not require striking employees to return to work.

Meanwhile, Air Pacific claims that all its flights are operating normally with up to 80 percent of FAWA members and volunteer cabin crew.

But media reports say flights from Nausori remain suspended as passengers from Suva are bussed to Nadi where services are being rescheduled and others operated by chartered Qantas aircraft.

Fiji's labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, says he has ordered the two parties to meet in Nadi today for talks chaired by the government.