20 Sep 2005

Vanuatu Workers Union persists with demonstration bid despite police opposition

7:27 pm on 20 September 2005

Vanuatu's National Workers Union has submitted a third application for a street demonstration to petition the government over the termination of 26 Air Vanuatu employees.

The acting Police Commissioner Lieutenant Colonel Aru Maralau rejected the previous application last week.

The application was rejected because Colonel Maralau felt a demonstration would disturb the peace ahead of next months's local body elections.

But the Union's secretary-general, Ephraim Kalsakau, says the commissioner's excuses are flimsy and says the planned demonstration has taken on greater importance for the country's workers.

He says Air Vanuatu management has reneged on an earlier promise to submit to arbitration over the dispute.

"They are arguing that they never consented, So the union has to decide whether to take it up in court or go to the street and show our government and its corrupt leaders that they can't play around with workers."

Ephraim Kalsakau says if the application is accepted, their demonstration will take place on Saturday.