22 Jan 2004

Fiji trade union asks PM to rein in labour minister

12:50 pm on 22 January 2004

A Fiji trade union is calling on the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, to rein in the Labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, over his threats to de-register them.

The general secretary of the Fiji Public Service Association, Rajeshwar Singh, says Mr Zinck has no authority to deregister any union because the law is very clear that only the registrar of trade unions can do that.

The minister has told three trade unions which are contemplating strike action, that once they were de-registered, their funds would be frozen and union officials investigated.

Mr Singh says he has written to Mr Qarase about Mr Zinck's behaviour.

"I've asked the prime minister to guide the minister for Labour in his ministerial duties. It's unfortunate that he's misusing his powers. Not only that, I have also asked him to rein in this errant minister who is making threats of reprisal against the trade unions."

Mr Singh says he's informed the prime minister that the unions are following proper industrial dispute procedures.

And, he says the union will know at the end of the week the results of a secret ballot on whether to take strike action over salary and cost of living adjustments.