5 Aug 2005

Fiji health minister rules out negotiations with striking nurses

9:39 am on 5 August 2005

Fiji's health minister says the government will not negotiate with nurses whose strike has crippled health services across the country for the second day.

Radio Legend quotes Solomone Naivalu as saying the labour minister has declared the strike illegal and it is now up to the director of public prosecutions and the police to deal with the situation.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has appealed to the nurses to think of their patients and return to work.

He says the grievances can be resolved through arbitration.

But the general secretary of the Fiji Nurses Association, Kuini Lutua, says men who make decisions in the government about nurses are trying to make them feel guilty about their actions by referring to their oaths to stand by their patients' side.

She says if their grievances had been heard when they were put and if the government had not kept going back on its word, the strike would not have happened.

Mrs Lutua says the skeleton emergency services provided at hospitals by student and retired nurses will come to a halt as they tire from fatigue because they have been working non-stop since yesterday.