2 Jul 2020

Fiji union and ATS appear in court over contract terminations

3:06 pm on 2 July 2020

A ruling on the termination of almost 300 employment contracts at the Air Terminal Services in Fiji is expected next week.

hamer and gavel

Photo: Unsplash / Bill Oxford

Lawyers for the Federated Airlines Staff Association and the state-owned company appeared before the Employment Relations Tribunal in Lautoka on Wednesday.

The tribunal is also expected to look into the recent publication of a job advertisement by the ATS.

Association lawyer Niveen Padarath told the hearing the termination of staff on 19 June was unlawful.

Mr Padarath had filed the injunction and told the tribunal that while the "ATS board and management proceeded to terminate the workers based on Section 24 of the Employment Relations Act and using the Covid-19 pandemic as an act of God", the union demanded to know the basis of the terminations.

However, Mr Padarath said Section 24 did not give a "right" to termination but rather an "obligation".

He said a contract could not "simply be terminated because of an amendment to the employment act".

Mr Padarath asked the court to stop the termination and the publication for recruitment until the legality of the termination was determined by the tribunal.

But ATS lawyer Devanesh Sharma said that "no original summons was filed prior to the filing or the injunction orders before the court".

Mr Sharma said there was no evidence to prove that the collective agreement was terminated.

Both parties have now been ordered to file their submissions before the court makes its ruling.