8 Aug 2005

Striking Tongans rally outside royal palace

3:31 pm on 8 August 2005

The Interim-PSA Chair in Tonga, Finau Tutone, says striking workers have become increasingly frustrated at the lack of government efforts to resolve their dispute.

Today more than 10,000 people marched in support of thousands of public servants in what has been called the biggest protest in history.

At the end of the march a petition was presented to Princess Pilolevu Tuita, asking for the King to answer the demands of pay increases of up to 80 percent.

Mr Tutone says there is no much else the PSA can do to help the situation.

"We have already fulfilled all the avenues that we are peacefully dealing with the government, traditional ways and so forth, no it's up to them, whatever happens, the government, the royal family are accountable, for any further movement where violence comes. We wash our hands."

Meanwhile, student leaders from government schools have made a collective announcement at the rally that the schools will not re-open tomorrow as scheduled.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says the prefects have called all students to meet at a church hall tomorrow morning.

And they will be marching tomorrow towards the rally instead of going back to school. All government schools are supposed to resume tomorrow, but it is not going to happen because the teachers are still on strike and the prefects are supporting the teachers.