20 Sep 2005

Vanuatu Workers Union going ahead with plans for demonstration despite police opposition

8:41 pm on 20 September 2005

Vanuatu's National Workers Union says its bid to stage a demonstration over the sacking of 26 Air Vanuatu employees has taken on more importance for the country's workers.

The union has submitted a third application for a street demonstration to petition the government after the acting Police Commissioner Lieutenant Colonel Aru Maralau rejected the last one.

The application was turned down because Colonel Maralau felt a demonstration would disturb the peace ahead of local body elections next month.

But the Union's secretary-general, Ephraim Kalsakau, says the commissioner's excuses are flimsy and he says it's time the government addressed the issue of workers rights.

"Over the twenty years of my trying to organise workers, we've had hundreds of workers laid off because they've joined the union. And most of the time it's happened at companies owned by the government. So I think the time has come for us to put our foot down and tell the government to pull up its socks and be an example to private sector employers to respect workers' rights."

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