11 Oct 2006

Fiji Public Service unions shocked at proposed job losses

5:04 pm on 11 October 2006

The Fiji government is being warned not to act quickly in its plans to axe 5,000 civil service jobs out of its 26,000 strong workforce.

The general-secretary of the Council of Trade Unions, Attar Singh, says the prime minister's announcement of the job losses has come as a shock.

He says there needs to be discussions between the six public service unions and the government about the plans.

Mr Singh says he would like to see any reduction in numbers achieved through attrition rather than redundancies but he's concerned that the announcement, which has come a month before the budget, could mean the government plans immediate job losses.

"It would be unwise for anyone to think that these numbers could be reduced overnight or even within the year. I think the sensible thing to do would be to take a longer term approach, work with the unions, increase numbers where they need to be increased. Where numbers are excessive and need to be reduced, then it must be with full discussion and full agreement of the unions."

Attar Singh says the unions will be meeting in the next day or two and they will pursue the prime minister's office to open a dialogue.