6 Aug 2005

Chairman of Fiji public service commission apologises to striking nurses

8:14 am on 6 August 2005

The chairman of Fiji's Public Service Commission has made an unprecedented public apology to the country's striking nurses.

Stuart Hugget, a Suva architect who has been in the job only since the end of last year, made his apology on Fiji TV last night.

Mr Hugget admitted the strike was caused by an error on the part of the Public Service Commission.

Mr Hugget said nurses are the heroes of the workforce, the details are being sorted out and he hoped they could go back to work.

But the Fiji Nurses Association wants the chief executive of the Public Service Commission, Anare Jale, sacked for reneging on commitments he made to the union last year.

The nationwide strike, which has caused the closure of all health centres and crippled hospital services, looks set to continue following the failure of talks yesterday.

After the labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, declared the strike illegal union officials were expected to be arrested.

But the police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, says he hopes the situation can be resolved through negotiation because the last thing he wants to see is for his officers to start arresting nurses or officials of their association.