Fiji’s Nadi International Airport is
now operating normally after being closed for about six hours due to a wildcat
strike by fire crews and some other employees earlier today.
When the fire crews
walked off around 06:00, Airports Fiji Limited was forced to close the airport
for safety reasons causing an Air New Zealand flight inbound from the Cook
Islands to divert to Auckland and delays for Air Pacific flights scheduled to
depart earlier today.
Airports Fiji brought
in fully trained auxiliary firemen, allowing the airport to reopen around
12:00. “These guys walked off and another crew was brought in later allowing
the airport to reopen,” says Airports Fiji spokesman George Rubine speaking
“Tourists are coming
and going as normal now,” says Rubine.
Less than 100 workers,
including the fire crew, out of about 470 working at the airport went on strike
to demand Airports Fiji recognise their union, the Fiji Public Services Association
(FPSA), says Rubine.
Before the airport was
privatised the unions were not permitted. Airports Fiji is willing to recognise
unions but wants procedures followed and its employees to give their consent,
Although the matter is
before the courts, Airports Fiji is optimistic an amicable solution can be
reached sooner rather than later, says Rubine.
The Government has
declared the strike illegal, all the more so as fire crews are deemed essential
workers, raising the prospect of the strikers losing the jobs. Local observers
think most workers will return soon to head off the threat of being sacked.
Government is now negotiating with landowners from Sana-kau village near the
airport who threatened to disrupt operations and linked up with the strikers to
push their claim for compensation for allowing part of the airport to use their
Local sources say their
right to compensation is not disputed, the tricky part comes in agreeing on