7 Feb 2007

Standoff between Fiji public sector unions and interim administration escalates

10:35 am on 7 February 2007

A standoff between Fiji's interim administration and public sector unions over a pay increase granted by the deposed Qarase government is escalating.

The interim minister for public service, Poseci Bune, says they are now looking into the legality of the pay increase agreed to by the Qarase government on the eve of last year's general election.

Mr Bune has told Radio Legend this has led to questions whether it was done for the sake of political expediency and in the hope of getting the support of the public service in the elections.

He has even questioned whether there was some form of collusion between the deposed government and the trade unions.

Mr Bune says the Cost of Living payments will cost taxpayers 36-million US dollars a year which the state cannot afford.

Mr Bune says it is time for public sector unions to stop thinking of their own pockets and consider the plight of the nation.

But the chairman of the Confederation of Public Sector Unions, Rajeshwar Singh, says they will not allow the interim administration to withdraw from the agreement signed by the previous government.