16 Jun 2010

Talks due to settle Fiji Vatakoula strike

1:38 pm on 16 June 2010

The union representing more than 300 striking gold miners in Fiji will meet government officials this afternoon in a bid to resolve a dispute that began almost two decades ago.

The workers from the Vatukoula Gold Mine went on strike in 1991 over poor labour conditions, substandard housing and environmental damage at the mine.

The Fiji Mineworkers Union will meet permanent secretaries from several government ministries today.

Its president Josefa Sadreu says they hope the government can help resolve the issue

"The strikers are looking forward to this negotiation with government because we hope that something is going to come out from here to stop this 19 year struggle. The miners are looking forward to that, hoping the government will do something about it."

Fiji Mineworkers Union President Josefa Sadreu

An Asia-Pacific and New Zealand union representative, Robert Reid, says the miners have continued to picket the mine, and have suffered severely after the Emperor Gold Mine company chose to close it down rather than negotiate.

He says the workers have made a legitimate claim on the Fiji Government for loss of wages over 19 years.