Thousands of Fijians take to streets to support Air Terminal Services workers' strike
SUVA, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Fijians turned out on Saturday in Nadi, Fiji's third largest city, in support of the Air Terminal Services (ATS) workers that have been locked out of their offices for 30 days after claiming poor working conditions and no pay rise for more than 10 years.
Fiji's Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Rusiate Tudravu said in a statement that close to 200 police officers were deployed and monitoring the situation.
Fiji Trades Union Congress General Secretary Felix Anthony and union members organized the peaceful march for workers who have been locked out of their work place since Dec. 16 last year after they attended a shareholders meeting.
Anthony said he hoped the Fijian government would address the workers' plight after seeing the great turnout of those Fijians in support of the ATS employees.
Federated Airline Staff Association (FASA) President Sai Vulawalu Ledua thanked Fijians that travelled from all over the country to participate in the march.
Opposition leader and head of the Burebasaga Confederacy Ro Teimumu Kepa told media she supported the Air Terminal Services march.
ATS Chief Executive Officer Hare Mani has maintained that the union and management have taken important steps towards addressing the issues and concerns of the workers.
Fiji's Employment and Industrial Relations Minister Jone Usamate has called on both parties to commit to dialogue and to resolve their issues through discussion as the strike by ATS workers was illegal.
However, FASA claimed that they had followed all the legal requirements to take industrial action.
Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had earlier stated that he feels sad to see that the interests of some unionists and politicians have been put ahead of many of Fijian people, particularly those working in Nadi.
ATS employees, under Air Terminal Services Employees Trust, own 49 percent shares in the company with the remaining shares belonging to the Fijian government through the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji. The company provides ground handling and inflight catering services.[ Editor: meng ]