11 Aug 2005

MP says strike impasse in Tonga shows need for change

8:12 am on 11 August 2005

A Pro-Democracy MP in Tonga says the on-going public servant strike show that there is a need for a change in the political system and possible constitutional changes.

Thousands of public servants have been on strike for nearly three weeks, calling for pay increases of up to 80 percent.

Akilisi Pohiva says the protest rallies started with the issue of public sector pay but he says it has now shifted to include political and social problems.

Mr Pohiva says the lack of government action to address the peoples concerns show a change is needed to have a fully-elected parliament.

He also says there are weaknesses in the constitution as it doesn't provide for a trade union or protection for striking workers.

"The need is always there. Under the present constitution, it is very, very difficult for parliament to pass a legislation relating to the rights of workers."