24 Jul 2007

Fiji's Cabinet meeting today hopes to avert nurses strike tonight

9:32 am on 24 July 2007

Fiji's interim cabinet will meet today to consider a fresh set of proposals from the Fiji Nurses Association to avert a strike by its members set to begin at midnight.

Details of the union's proposals have not been made public but it had earlier suggested that the government borrow from the Fiji National Provident Fund to restore the full 5% pay cut imposed in March this year.

The union said past governments had resorted to borrowing to pay salaries.

The minister for the public service, Poseci Bune, says the nurses union is being irresponsible in introducing new issues not related to normal industrial relations matters.

The Nurses Association, and three other unions which are scheduled to go on strike next week, are adamant that they will not accept the 1% pay restoration offered by the government and accepted by two large public sector unions.

The interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says the administration cannot afford to restore the full 5% pay cut or meet the other demands of the unions.

Meanwhile, the military says troops are on stand by to assist if nurses walk off their jobs tonight.