23 Jul 2007

Fiji nurses say government should borrow money to restore 5% salary cut

9:45 am on 23 July 2007

As 1,400 members of the Fiji Nurses Association prepare to go on strike from tomorrow, their union is asking why the interim administration doesn't just borrow from the National Provident Fund to restore their 5% pay cut.

The Fijilive news website quotes the Association secretary, Kuini Lutua, as saying the government usually borrows from the Provident Fund to meet its payments, so it can do the same with the 18-million US dollars needed to restore civil service pay.

Mrs Lutua says one third of what they give public servants will go back to the government in taxes of various kinds.

Talks with the minister for public service continued late yesterday in an effort to avert the nurses strike.

Meanwhile, Mrs Lutua says nurses will not be intimidated by crowd control exercises carried out by armed riot police and the military on Friday, described as Tiananmen Square massacre type tactics.

She has been quoted as saying most of their members are females who are wives of police and military officers, so any confrontation with men with guns will be an interesting encounter.

Mrs Lutua says there is no reason for them to be frightened because they are fighting for their rights.