6 Aug 2007

Interim Fiji PM says there will be no arbitration with unions

10:26 am on 6 August 2007

Fiji's interim prime minister has stressed there will be no arbitration to resolve the current public sector strikes by the Nurses Association, the Public Employees Union and the Viti National Union of Taukei Workers.

Commodore Bainimarama told Radio Legend this morning that the interim labour minister has been advised on the government's stand and they are now working according to their contingency plans.

Commodore Bainimarama says the government's offer is still on the table and if the unions want to talk, the government will talk.

He says government ministries are providing services and there is no question of arbitration.

As the strike by nurses entered its 13th day today, weekend talks between their association and the public service commission have broken down once again.

The permanent secretary of the PSC, Taina Tagicakibau, says the nurses association has been negotiating in bad faith.

But the nurses' general secretary, Kuini Lutua, says the strike is no longer just about the restoration of the 5% pay cut and their members are ready to resign and take up jobs in Australia and New Zealand.

She says Fiji is losing the health care provided by qualified and competent nurses who are now more marketable overseas.