24 Aug 2005

Tongan government rejects strikers' offer to end dispute

2:42 pm on 24 August 2005

The Tongan government has rejected an offer by striking public servants to return to work under an interim deal.

The union offer was for the workers to be paid the demanded increases until a pay review was completed.

This comes as the stoppage by thousands of public servants is in its second month to press for rises of up to 80 percent.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says the rejection may give the industrial dispute a political dimension.

"The chairman of the interim committee, Mr Finau Tutone, is very upset. He said they would now move on to their next strategy. They have no choice but to move on to plan B, they'll have to agree to it as a group. But what they have talked about in the past that they will bring in the businesspeople, they will bring in the politicians - something they have avoided to do so far because they are trying to politicise the whole pay rise agenda."