12 Jan 2018

NZ's CTU to stage protest in support of Fiji workers

10:40 am on 12 January 2018

New Zealand unionists are taking part in a protest outside the Fiji High Commission in Wellington today, to support workers at Nadi Airport who they say have been locked out since 16 December.

Up to 200 staff have been off work for nearly a month, saying they were locked out for attending a meeting.

The company Air Terminal Services said the gathering amounted to illegal strike action and the workers are suspended.

The firm, which provides baggage, catering and engineering services at Nadi airport, has indicated it was bringing in about 150 people to temporarily fill jobs created by the dispute.

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Secretary, Sam Huggard, said the ATS workers have had some serious issues that they wanted to deal with.

"Simply by attending a meeting to get organised to address some of these issues, then that was faced with a pretty swift response," Mr Huggard said.

"So our interest is wanting to put the pressure on the Fiji government, really it is a government-owned company, ATS, to really resolve this dispute and allow the workers to return back to work with dignity."

Mr Huggard said his movement stood in full support of the workers in Fiji.

Air Niugini and Fiji Airways parked at Nadi International Airport in Fiji

Nadi Airport Photo: RNZI/Sally Round

"It's really important that the Fiji ATS workers know that the rest of the wider Pacific, and also globally, support their cause and support their issues," he said.

"Certainly we're mobilising in New Zealand.

"The Australian unions are as well and one of the points is that for a country for which tourism is such an important industry, they need to make sure that the tourist industry operates smoothly and effectively, and the way to do that is to work cooperatively and constructively with workers."

Sam Huggard said the CTU may organise fundraising efforts to support out of work employees if the impasse continues.

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