29 Aug 2005

Tongan government confident strike discussions will continue

12:33 pm on 29 August 2005

The Tongan government is confident that discussions will continue with striking public servants despite the failure of planned mediation last week.

The strike has entered its sixth week after a New Zealand delegation, led by retired judge Tom Goddard, was unable to help the two sides reach an agreement.

The workers are calling for pay rises of up to 80 percent, with the government's offer of 30 percent being refused.

Members of the interim Public Servants Committee in Tonga, which has been leading the strike, have said there is now a need for political change because the government has not accepted their demands and talks have fallen through.

But, the Governor of Vava'u, 'Akau'ola, speaking from New Zealand where he met some strike representatives, says they seemed ready to talk.

"I'm listening to a different thing from the people here and independent action is going on in Tonga because I got a reassurance here from the four representatives I met at the meeting on Saturday that discussions and negotiations were by no means closed, which was reassuring to me."

The governor of Vava'u, 'Akau'ola.