3 Feb 2004

Fiji Labour minister refers public sector pay dispute to arbitration

8:26 am on 3 February 2004

The threat of a major public sector strike in Fiji could be averted after the minister of Labour referred the matter to arbitration.

Kenneth Zinck says all three cases, involving the Public Service Association, the Fiji Teachers Union and the Nurses Association, will now be decided by the permanent arbitrator.

This follows a deadlock between the Public Service Commission and the unions over their demands for a cost of living adjustment and a pay increase.

Mr Zinck says once the case was deadlocked, the next legal step was taken.

"When it came to us as a dispute, we referred it back to them to continue talking until it all broke down last week. But, we wanted them to keep talking and dialogue and come to some reasonable, amicable settlement which they didn't. They remained far apart and that's why the deadlock and the subsequent reference to arbitration."

Kenneth Zinck says he hopes that referring the matter to arbitration will result in threatened strike action being called off.