25 Jul 2007

Fiji nurses on strike, contingency plans in place

6:37 am on 25 July 2007

Over 1400 nurses around Fiji walked off their jobs at midnight last night after unsuccessful talks on the restoration of their 5% pay cut.

Health authorities have put contingency plans into place to provide accident and emergency services and limited medical treatment with the help of about 200 nurses who are not members of the Fiji Nurses Association.

Patients who are not seriously ill are expected to be sent home today while many health centres around Fiji will remain closed.

Police officers recalled from leave have thrown security cordons around hospitals and health centres.

Striking nurses have gathered at their union headquarters in Suva as the minister for the public service, Poseci Bune, accused their officials of not acting in the best interest of their members.

Mr Bune says the officials have not revealed the details of the government's offer to the nurses and are working to a political agenda.

But the Nurses Association general secretary Kuini Lutua, says there is nothing new in the government's offer and there is nothing political about the nurses demand which is to have their 5% pay cut restored.