9 Sep 2003

Sacked Fiji cannery workers to reapply for jobs after strike

11:29 am on 9 September 2003

Striking workers who were sacked by Fiji's state-owned tuna cannery have been told they can get their jobs back if they re-apply individually.

The Daily Post says this has been revealed by the minister for public enterprises, Irami Matairavula.

The Pacific Fishing Company based at Levuka on the island of Ovalau sacked nearly 350 workers last week after the minister for labour declared their strike illegal.

The workers, mostly village women, were protesting the company's refusal to honour an arbitration award handed down earlier this year.

The company's general manager, Mitieli Baleivanualala, has rejected criticism that the replacement workers he has hired are scab labour, adding that they are doing extremely well and the cannery has exceeded its target.

Meanwhile, a Labour party senator, Atu Emberson-Bain, says the treatment given to Fijian women in a state-owned tuna cannery who are paid less than 40 US dollars a week is shameful.

Senator Emberson-Bain says the fish they produce is sold under top brand names like John West and Sainsbury, yet they are paid a pittance well below the poverty line.