25 Jul 2007

Striking Fiji nurses confident health services crippled

8:26 am on 25 July 2007

The Fiji Nurses Association says it is confident it has crippled health services across the country.

The association's general secretary, Kuini Lutua, made the comment on Radio Legend as reports came in that over 1,400 nurses at scores of hospitals around Fiji walked off their jobs from midnight last night.

Mrs Lutua says it is nurses who do the operational work at hospitals and health centres, and it is very unfair that every time a coup happens, their pay has to be cut.

The nurses have gone on strike after the expiry of their 28-day strike notice which is required from workers in essential services.

They are demanding that the 5% pay cut imposed on all public servants in March to stabilize government finances be restored immediately.

Medical authorities are maintaining accident and emergency as well as maternity services with the help of about 200 nurses who are not union members and student nurses all of whom have now gone on 12-hour shifts.

Meanwhile, the police commissioner, Commodore Esala Teleni, says they have intelligence that there are people who may want to use the strike to create disturbances.

Commodore Teleni has warned such people to keep well away from the 20 branches of the Fiji Nurses Association where the strikers are congregating.

Police have thrown security cordons around hospitals and set up checkpoints at key road intersections and bridges.