22 Mar 2007

Former Fiji minister says unions being targetted by military

8:13 pm on 22 March 2007

Fiji's Prime Minister is reportedly threatening military action if public sector unions remain uncooperative over pay cuts for civil servants.

Fijivillage reports Commodore Frank Bainimarama as saying the country's security situation is delicate and there are elements who could take advantage of the situation and destablise the nation.

The website says Commodore Bainimarama is urging Fiji's leaders not to whip up emotions and make the military think twice about plans to drop the emergency decree in place.

A former cabinet minister in the Fiji government who has been interrogated by the military three times says the interim administration is targetting the unions.

A former Labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, could take legal action after being detained and warned not to incite trouble.

Mr Zinck, the general secretary of the Revenue and Customs Authority's staff association, says he was only suggesting ways to resolve the current impasse.

"Right now our unions are being targetted simply because of the 5 per cent pay cut introduced by the government and also the reduction of the retirement age so the unions are at the forefront of the struggle at this point in time."

The Suva High Court has just ordered the Authority to re-instate its staffs' pay after a five-percent cut across the board in the last pay round.