The walk out by the Air Traffic Controllers which now has entered day 8 hasn’t come to a resolution.
Their is a growing concern about safety and security of passengers and flights as only 5 out of 37 Air Traffic Controllers are currently working around the clock.
Minster for Employment Praveen Bala has not shown any efforts to meet the workers and solve he situation except for issuing a statement labeling the walkout as “unlawful strike”.
Air Traffic Controllers walked out and did not report for work for over from 18th of March from Fiji’s both international airports, Nausori and Nadi.
A statement sent to the magazine from the protesting workers claimed around 80 percent of traffic control officers had taken various forms of leave in protest over pay and working conditions.
“Services are currently being provided by 5 ATC [Air Traffic Control] officers who have worked continuously for the past 48 hours out of the normal daily compliment of 17 officers for Nadi Centre, Nadi Tower and Nausori Tower.”
Only five officers have remained at their posts and are working around the clock at the Nadi and Nausori airport towers. It said normally there are 17 officers on duty.
The disgruntled workers claim that Fiji Airports Ltd has deliberately misrepresented their progressive salaries based on promotion and career progression to make it look like they have received massive pay increases when in reality this is not the case.
They told Islands Business they have met three times this week with senior managers of Fiji Airports Limited including its executive chairman Faiz Khan.
What did Faiz Khan say?
Fiji Airports Executive Chairman, Faiz Khan responded to queries raised from the media and public at large.
“We have taken note of the order of the Minister but will not be making any media comments on it at the present time. We would rather our controllers hear directly from us than through the media.
“Over the last couple of days we have held a number of meetings with our controllers, and thank them for their participation.”
“As part of Fiji Airports culture we have at all times held that our doors are open to our controllers for dialogue and discussions.”
“We look forward to working together with our controllers, and having further discussions to hear any issues that our controllers have with a view to fair and equitable resolution.”
Employment Minister says it is a “unlawful strike.”
The minster for employments Praveen Bala says that 35 Air Traffic Controllers who aren’t attending work and have taken leave is a “strike” and is “unlawful”.
In a press release yesterdayMinister Bala declared that the conduct of the Fiji Airports Traffic Management workers constitutes unlawful strike in accordance to Employments Relations Act 2007.
From 18th to 21st March, a total of 32 Air Traffic Controllers have taken official leave including family leave.
They have demanded increase in their pay from Airports Fiji Limited.
The Minister said that the workers have been cordinating and have refused to attend works which amounts to unlawful strike.
Fiji Airports Limited threatens to “discipline staff.”
Fiji Airports Limited says that it will “discipline” the staffs (Air Traffic Controllers) if they fail to return to work.
Fiji Public Service Association General Secretary Rajeshwar Singh says, the 32 air traffic controllers who are staying away from work received letters last night and were told by Fiji Airports that they will be disciplined if they do not return to work.
Mr Singh says that the workers received the letter yesterday. He added that “the ball is in their court.”