8 Aug 2005

Fiji nurses oppose arbitration in dispute with government

3:32 pm on 8 August 2005

Fiji's 1,300 striking nurses say they will not accept arbitration in their dispute with the Public Service Commission over a range of grievances.

The nation-wide strike entered its fifth day today after negotiations between the Nurses Association and the PSC at the weekend failed to resolve all the issues.

One of the issues is that the Association wants the PSC chief executive, Anare Jale, sacked for reneging on commitments he made to the union last year.

The Labour minister Kenneth Zinck has referred the dispute to arbitration but the President of the Association, Simione Racolo, says the nurses refuse to accept a system which they deem to be unfair.

"We want it settled on the table between us and the government - not using the arbitration process. We even now refuse to accept any agreement signed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Service Commission because I don't think it's worth the paper it's signed on. Because they do that and after that they reverse the decision on their own, and we are left out in the cold."

Meanwhile the Nurses Association says threats to arrest their union officials by the Minister will not work and will only mean a continuation of their strike.