26 Feb 2004

Fiji nurses seek court ruling on labour minister's powers

11:35 am on 26 February 2004

The Fiji nurses union says it is questioning the power of the Labour Minister, Kenneth Zinck, to refer their long-running pay dispute to compulsory arbitration.

The Fiji Nurses Association is one of three key Fiji unions that have asked the High Court to review Mr Zinck's decision to refer the dispute to compulsory arbitration.

Kuini Lutua, the nurses' association's general secretary, says the union wants the court to rule that Mr Zinck doesn't have the power to order compulsory arbitration.

"We are really questionning the powers of the Minister in ordering compulsory arbitration when he sort of ... in a way he's pre-empted that we will go on strike, and I think that's one of the reasons why we have agreed to seek the judicial review on his powers."

The unions want a five percent ost of living increase and merit increases but have been offered one percent and a performance-based system.

Ms Lutua says the unions expect to hear about their judicial review before arbitration resumes on June 21st.