21 Jul 2011

NZ and Aust unions back away from action against airlines serving Fiji

7:39 am on 21 July 2011

The danger of lawsuits has prompted New Zealand and Australian trade unions to back away from industrial action involving airlines serving Fiji.

Fiji trade unionists had requested support in New Zealand and Australia to fight against alleged violence and harassment by Fiji's regime.

The Council of Trade Unions in Wellington and the Transport Workers Union in Australia threatened to stop servicing flights to the island.

But the CTU secretary, Peter Conway, says his organisation has received a lawyer's letter from Air Pacific, pointing out strike action is lawful only in support of health and safety or a collective agreement.

"What we want to know from Air Pacific is do they support assaults on union officials in Fiji and decrees that take away human rights at work, and if they do, the public and New Zealand should know that, and if they don't, will they join us in trying to stop this situation as it develops."

Peter Conway says there was no intention to rush into strike action and the airlines should not have called on their lawyer as a first choice.