19 Jul 2007

Fiji's Public Service Minister says interim govt could bridge gap by nurses going overseas

11:30 am on 19 July 2007

Fiji's Public Service Minister says the interim government could bridge the gap left by the departure of more nurses seeking better job offers overseas.

The government says it won't give into the demands of the Fiji Nurses Association and other public servants for full restoration of a five percent pay cut.

The Nurses and the government have agreed to meet on Friday and the Minister, Poseci Bune, says he remains hopeful of agreement.

Mr Bune says that although Fiji has a critical shortage of nurses, the government is powerless to match the salaries in overseas employment.

"I think the more that leave our shores the better for us too because we can address our employment problem by recruiting those who are leaving our school system to enter the nursing school. And now remittances is almost level with tourism as our main source of foreign exchange."

The Association has warned about 1400 nurses will strike after next Tuesday unless the government offers 5 percent restoration.