2 Aug 2007

Fiji interim regime open to arbitration to end strikes

3:50 pm on 2 August 2007

Fiji's labour minister denies the interim administration is resisting efforts to go to arbitration with striking unions.

About seven thousand government employees from the Fijian Teachers Association, the Viti National Union of Taukei Workers as well as the Public Employees Union walked off the job today with another three thousand expected to join the strike tomorrow.

The PEU says they want to go to arbitration but believe the interim government is using delaying tactics through fear of losing.

But the interim minister for labour, Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau, says arbitration will take place and when it does, she is confident of victory.

"I don't think we're dragging our feet. We have the contingency in place. Mahendra Chaudhry was the unionist who led most strikes in the recent past which led to arbitration and won. Mahendra Chaudhry is on this side of the fence now so I don't think there is any fear of that happening, but perhaps if you just let us go from day after day and see what happens."

The interim minister for labour, Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau