19 Mar 2007

Fiji Labour Minister open to negotiations with public sector unions

7:32 pm on 19 March 2007

Fiji's interim minister for labour says the interim government is open to negotiations with public sector unions which threaten strike action.

The public service could come to a standstill if its unions decide to take industrial action because of a five percent pay cut and a reduction of the retirement age from 60 to 55 for all public servants.

Although public sector strikes are illegal under the current state of emergency, secret balloting is under way over taking action.

The unions are expected to announce their united stand soon, but the interim minister for labour, Bernadette Rounds Ganilau, says the interim administration is open to discussions.

"They are wanting to restore that five percent, let's sit down and work out what can we do. Can we get better productivity out of the public service? Would they be able to wait for another few months until we get a little bit more in the kitty before we can do these pay outs. They haven't come to the negotiating table yet, they did initial talks and of course they had to go back to get the mandate from the people. I would like to hear what the workers said."

But Bernadette Rounds Ganilau stresses a five percent pay cut is fair.