5 Feb 2004

Fiji faces port closures

4:24 pm on 5 February 2004

Fiji's ports face a complete shut down early next month following a breakdown in talks and a strike notice given by the workers' union.

Employees of the Maritime and Ports Authority are members of the Fiji Public Service Association.

The workers are concerned about the uncertainty of employment as a result of ongoing reform processes and five different contracts offered since 2001 ranging from two weeks to six months.

They are also aggrieved at the acting chief executive of the Ports Authority, Emosi Varea, saying he has had a bad effect on staff morale.

Both Mr Varea and the general secretary of the FPSA, Rajeshwar Singh, say they are willing to go back to talks.

The labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, says any strike would be illegal because when talks break down, the dispute should first be referred to the permanent arbitrator.