8 Feb 2007

Fiji public sector unions defy regime over proposed cuts

4:05 pm on 8 February 2007

Fiji's public sector unions are vowing to fight the military if talks break down over cost-cutting measures being proposed by the interim government.

They say they are preparing for strike action despite state of emergency laws currently in force which would forbid industrial action.

The public service association has asked the registrar of trade unions to supervise a secret ballot for industrial action in anticipation of any surprises by the military-backed administration.

The interim government's proposing slashing public servants' pay, reducing their retirement age from 60 to 55 and pulling out of a pay agreement signed by the deposed government with unions last year.

The PSA's general secretary, Rajeshwar Singh, says the unions will challenge the emergency decree, if necessary.

"The trade unions are there to protect the rights and interests of its members and the terms and conditions of service and we need to do everything possible, whatever we can do."

Mr Singh says the unions has been given no information about the interim government's financial position.