Unions threaten strike over pay demands

May 30, 2024 12:45 pm

[File Photo]

Fiji’s largest civil servant unions have warned they will strike if their pay demands are not met.

The Fiji Teachers Union (FTU), Fijian Teachers Association (FTA) and Fiji Nursing Association (FNA) are urging the government to act immediately.

These unions argue that their members deserve a pay increase and have submitted detailed proposals to support their claims.

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FNA President Dr Adi Alisi Vudiniabola criticized the way Parliament recently approved salary and allowance hikes for MPs, calling it disrespectful.

She pointed out that MPs should not compare their pay to that of judges, who are highly qualified and do not receive the same perks as MPs.

Dr. Vudiniabola also expressed disappointment with the Health Ministry.

Despite promises made after their annual general meeting, nurses have not been paid according to their years of service.

She adds that nurses are frustrated and may strike next.

“Our secret ballot lodge has been with the Department of Labour and we have been placed on the mediation process and until now we haven’t come to any agreement so we cannot really rule strike action out for now.”

The FTU and FTA are demanding a 30% pay increase.

FTU General Secretary Muniappa Goundar and FTA General Secretary Paula Manumanunitoga said their pay adjustment requests to the Education and Finance Ministers have been ignored.

Both unions have indicated that their members are ready to strike.

Education Minister Aseri Radrodro assured that Cabinet will soon consider a proper salary adjustment for teachers.

Political Sociologist Professor Steven Ratuva says that the government will face pressure to raise wages in other sectors as well.

He explained that if MPs receive more than a 100% pay rise, other workers will demand similar increases.

“Logically people will demand that as well. A lot of people have been demanding at least 5 per cent that haven’t been able to get it because they don’t have the power to do it.”

Prof Ratuva highlighted the issue of basic salaries. In Fiji, the minimum wage is $4 an hour while it is around $23.15 in New Zealand and similar in Australia.

He criticized the attempt to match Fijian parliamentary pay with those of New Zealand and Australia, pointing out the vast differences in minimum pay rate between the countries.