22 Feb 2007

Fiji unions assert right to strike despite state of emergency

5:20 pm on 22 February 2007

Fiji's unions are vowing to strike over possible pay cuts despite warnings from the military-backed government that it would be illegal under the country's state of emergency.

Support for strike action is expected to be overwhelming when the Confederation of Public Sector Unions holds a secret ballot over the matter next month.

The interim Labour Minister, Bernadette Rounds Ganilau, has reportedly pledged to continue talks with the unions over options available to resolve the trade dispute.

The Public Service Association says while the minister can declare any strike illegal and order public servants back to work, she must follow the matter through in the arbitration court.

The PSA's general secretary, Rajeshwar Singh, says the unions won't bow to pressure.

"The Trades Dispute Act is intact, the constitution is intact. And we'll use proper procedure and if the emergency decree, if they use it, we will cross that bridge when we come to it."

Mr Singh declined to say if the dispute could be resolved without industrial action.