8 Jan 2018

Fiji PM accused of disregarding plight of ATS workers

11:53 am on 8 January 2018

The leader of Fiji's opposition National Federation Party Biman Prasad says the prime minister is parroting the same tune as the attorney general in attacking politicians and unionists who assisted workers locked-out by Air Terminal Services.

The leader of Fiji's National Federation Party, Biman Prasad.

The leader of Fiji's National Federation Party, Biman Prasad. Photo: RNZI/Alex Perrottet

The company, known as ATS, provides baggage, catering and engineering services at Nadi airport.

More than 200 staff have been off work since 16 December, saying they were locked out for attending a meeting.

ATS said the gathering amounted to illegal strike action.

On Friday, the prime minister Frank Bainimarama told Fiji Village that cheap politicians and trade unionists were influencing the striking workers to remain off work.

Professor Prasad said, like the attorney general Aiyaz Sayed Kaiyum and his brother Riyaz who is the chair of ATS, Mr Bainimarama was blatantly disregarding the plight of the workers who are 49 percent shareholders in ATS.

He said the prime minister was also turning a blind eye to breaches of the Companies Act and mismanagement at ATS.

"Here is a Prime Minister who has done the very opposite of what he has been preaching - common and equal citizenry and that no one will be left behind. His remarks are a kick in the guts of the workers and their families who together with their children spent Christmas and New Year in tents," said Dr Prasad.

"The PM has called us cheap politicians. Yes, we are cheap in the sense that we are not on a salary of over $328,000 annually, do not get an average of $3000 daily in allowances for overseas travel and always fly first class when travelling overseas like him," he said.

Nadi International Airport, Fiji

Nadi International Airport, Fiji Photo: RNZI/Sally Round

"We are cheap because we earn only $50,000 per year, use our personal resources to help the needy in whatever little form we can and have provided humanitarian assistance to the ATS workers to bring smiles to their faces and those of their families and children during the festive season, unlike him, his subordinate the AG and his brother.

"We wear this as a badge of honour."

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