24 Jul 2007

Tongan Public Servants allege scare tactics used by government over petition

3:26 pm on 24 July 2007

Public servants in Tonga are alleging that the government is using scare tactics by telling people they could lose their jobs for signing a petition over their pay and conditions.

The secretary of the Public Servants Association, Mele 'Amanaki, says the Minister of Education made public announcements on radio and television, saying they shouldn't have done so.

She also says the chief executives of smaller ministries called public servants in individually to say they shouldn't have signed, and asked them to think about withdrawing their signature from the petition.

Ms 'Amanaki says the PSA has received many phone calls from its members who are frightened they could lose their jobs as a result.

"All Tongans have been given the right to speak what they want. See, what we wanted to speak here about is our benefits that have been taken off by government. We have a right to say that. That is not political but we have been told that that is political. We know that what government is trying to do is to weaken the stance of the PSA.'"

Ms 'Amanaki says the PSA is writing to the prime minister, Dr Fred Sevele, to request a meeting next week over the issues concerning their pay and conditions.

She says it's a last opportunity for the government to avert any industrial action.