2 Feb 2004

Fiji Teachers Union begins secret ballot to determine strike action

4:31 pm on 2 February 2004

The Fiji Teachers Union says it will continue with a ballot of its members over strike action despite the referral of its case to arbitration.

Its general secretary, Agni Deo Singh, says he's expecting 95 percent plus of the members countrywide to vote to go on strike, in line with the Fiji Public Association and the Nurses Association.

All three unions are calling for an increase in the cost of living, or COLA, adjustment and a pay rise.

Mr Singh says they will continue with the ballot to seek members' views in case the Labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, reneges on his decision to send the matter to arbitration.

Mr Singh says public servants are being denied pay rises but the new chief executives of ministries and MPs and cabinet, are in line for a substantial wage increase.

"The chief executive officers have got a change made to their names from permanent secretaries and their salaries have been boosted up by 30 to 40 percent. Cabinet ministers and members of parliament are getting an increase of about 30 to 40 percent. It is only the civil servants who carry this government that are being denied an increment."

Mr Singh says they will know the results of the ballot by the end of the week.