24th September 02:07 AM
Rabuka responds to PM's cheap politicians comments
By Iva Danford
Saturday 06/01/2018
SODELPA Leader Sitiveni Rabuka [left] and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

SODELPA Leader Sitiveni Rabuka has today reiterated his call for the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to urgently step in to resolve the current impasse at Air Terminal Services in Nadi.

Rabuka says a real leader feels for all his or her people.

While responding to Bainimarama’s characterisation of those who visited the locked out workers as ‘cheap politicians, Rabuka says that the Prime Minister should be above making cheap political point scoring comments.

Rabuka says Bainimarama should not underestimate the intelligence of the ATS workers who know well what is at stake as they have lost 3 weeks of wages and their families are suffering, yet they choose to continue to stand up for their rights.

He says that actions taken by ATS Executive Chairman Riyaz Sayed‑Khaiyum on 16 December 2017 to lock the workers out, had unnecessarily escalated the problem and placed the lives of the travelling public at risk, with ATS understaffed as a result of the illegal lockout.

Rabuka says the Prime Minister is mistaken in characterising groups, NGO’s, Unions, Communities and Religious bodies that visited the ATS workers as ‘cheap politicians.’

He says they visited the locked out workers on a humanitarian basis because ATS has stopped paying their wages and their families were under severe stress during the festive season.

The SODELPA leader says to accuse politicians of influencing the workers is unintelligent and undermines the workers’ ability to rationalise and intelligently decide their own individual and collective course of action.

He says the stance taken by the ATS workers has the support of their families who have suffered with them over the last 12 years since the 2006 coup.

Rabuka says they have not been paid for 3 weeks now and refuse to sign the unfair letters prepared by ATS Management that require them to incriminate themselves.

Rabuka is urging the Prime Minister to authorise the Minister for Labour to exercise his legislative power to resolve the impasse.

He says it is unprecedented that ATS is ill‑treating its workers and at the same time putting the safety of international travellers at risk.

The SODELPA Party Leader also urged the Minister for Labour to exercise his powers under the Employment Relations Promulgation and declare the lockout by ATS illegal and refer the matter to arbitration.

Rabuka said that a SODELPA Government will respect fundamental labor rights of workers of Fiji as enshrined in the ILO Conventions, the Employment Relations Promulgation and the 2013 Constitution which includes the right to collective bargaining and negotiations in good faith with workers representatives, the trade unions.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had said cheap politicians and trade unionists are influencing striking ATS workers to stay on outside the premises rather than signing the Return to Work letters to go back to work.

While opening a rural electrification project in Navuca, Tailevu, Bainimarama said while the workers are being misled to continue with the strike, the unionists and politicians are going back to their homes and continue with their plan to build their campaign platform for the election.

He has called on all Fijians to think carefully for themselves.

The Prime Minister has asked people not to buy into false promises from people such as high earning trade union officials and politicians who do not understand your situation. 

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