Australian unions rally for locked-out Fijian aviation workers

Australian union activists will protest in Sydney today in support of 220 Fijian aviation ground handlers who have been locked out of their workplace at Nadi International Airport by employer Air Terminal Services (ATS) since December 16, 2017.

The rally, organised by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), will call on the Fijian Government – a 51 percent shareholder in ATS - to take urgent action to end the lockout and allow workers to return to work.

ITF President Paddy Crumlin today urged the Fijian Government to act: “For over a month, 220 workers have been locked out, simply for defending basic workers’ rights.

“The Fijian Government has the power to resolve this dispute and, with the livelihoods of hundreds of workers and their families on the line, we need an urgent resolution.”

The workers – baggage handlers, check-in staff, engineers and caterers – were targeted after attending a recent meeting where issues of mismanagement and appalling conditions were discussed, including an 11-year pay freeze.

A letter by Paddy Crumlin to the Fijian Consulate in Sydney will be delivered at the rally.

“The ITF is alarmed about reports that experienced ground crew have been replaced by workers who lack sufficient experience,” the letter says.

“This has put safety standards at significant risk. Reports have emerged that “temporary” staff failed to report damage sustained to an Air New Zealand aircraft on the tarmac in Nadi. 

“The airline only became aware of the damage when engineers inspected the jet on its return to Auckland.

“Tourism is of course a major enterprise in Fiji, and for the industry to be successful travellers must be confident that their safety and security is assured.

“Today, the ITF and affiliated unions, alongside the Australian Council of Trade Unions, request that you urgently communicate to the Government of Fiji our appeal that government ministers move swiftly to ensure the workers can immediately return to work.”

The ITF is calling on the Government of Fiji to resolve this situation without delay by:

  • allowing all workers to return to work without any loss in conditions;
  • ensuring that workers do not suffer any financial loss for the period of the dispute;
  • commitments that no worker will be victimized for their participation in the dispute;
  • agree to a timeline to resolve all other issues, in particular the workers’ cost of living adjustments.

“The government must act to end this crisis and ensure that safety concerns don’t cause travellers to think twice about visiting Fiji,” Mr Crumlin said.

ENDS

For more details, please contact
Luke Menzies, ITF Asia Pacific
Tel: +61 433 889 844
menzies_luke@itf.org.uk

 

Text of letter to Fijian consulate: 

Consulate General of Fiji

Level 11, 100 Walker St

North Sydney NSW 2059


January 18th 2017


Dear Mr Zarak Khan,

I am writing to you as the President of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). The ITF is a global union federation, which represents around 700 labour unions and represent 19.7 transport workers around the world. The ITF has a long history of promoting the employment and welfare of transport workers around the world.

The ITF has concerns regarding the situation of the 220 Air Terminal Services (ATS) workers at Nadi International Airport, who have been locked out since December 16, 2017. These workers were locked out by the management of the majority government-owned ATS after attending an emergency shareholders’ meeting over alleged mismanagement and appalling conditions – including sexual harassment and an 11-year pay freeze.

The ITF is alarmed about reports that experienced ground crew have been replaced by workers who lack sufficient experience. This has put safety standards at significant risk. Reports have emerged that “temporary” staff failed to report damage sustained to an Air New Zealand aircraft on the tarmac in Nadi. The airline only became aware of the damage when engineers inspected the jet on its return to Auckland.

Tourism is of course a major enterprise in Fiji, and for the industry to be successful travellers must be confident that their safety and security is assured.

Today, the ITF and affiliated unions, alongside the Australian Council of Trade Unions, request that you urgently communicate to the Government of Fiji our appeal that government ministers move swiftly to ensure the workers can immediately return to work.

The ITF is calling on the Government of Fiji to resolve this situation without delay by:

  • allowing all workers to return to work without any loss in conditions;
  • ensuring that workers do not suffer any loss for the period of the dispute;
  • commitments that no worker will be victimized for their participation in the dispute; and
  • agree to a timeline to resolve all other issues, in particular the workers’ cost of living adjustments.

It is within the Government of Fiji’s powers, and within the law, to resolve this issue. We are also asking the Australian Government to use its influence to urge the Government of Fiji to resolve this dispute promptly.

I would like the opportunity to meet with you to discuss our concerns and to facilitate a successful outcome to this dispute. Please contact Luke Menzies via phone on 0433 889 844 or email at menzies_luke@itf.org.uk to organise a meeting.

Yours sincerely,                             

Paddy Crumlin

ITF President

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Anasa Tuviniwai

328 Days Ago
In solidarity with ATS workers
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