2 Aug 2004

Air Fiji expat engineers refuse to be strikebreakers

3:40 pm on 2 August 2004

Three expatriate engineers brought in by Air Fiji after the sacking of 35 of their own engineers, have refused to participate in being used as strikebreakers.

The general secretary of the Transport Workers Union, Attar Singh, says once the Australians and New Zealanders were made aware of the circumstances, they declined to take up their positions.

The airline terminated the employment of 35 of its engineers on Friday, calling their strike illegal.

Mr Singh says Air Fiji have reneged on their promises and the engineers brought in, recognised this.

"This shows that in the aircraft engineering fraternity, people are unwilling to take up jobs that have been left vacant by unjustified dismissals. And, in this case, it is really pleasing, the engineers have really welcomed their decisions, and we would like to think that others that Air Fiji may approach in similar circumstances, might do so as well."

Mr Singh says the airline, which normally operates 12 planes, has been directed by Civil Aviation to fly only four given the situation.

The Labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, is negotiating with Air Fiji management.