Around 50 protesters demanded the Fijian Government ensure that Air Terminal Services allow its staff to return to work, after being locked out since December 16, and that their demands for better conditions are met. A letter was delivered to the consulate with the list of demands, including an end to an 11-year pay freeze.
“We are here today to demand that the Fiji Government intervenes to allow these workers to go back to their jobs without being victimized. We demand that they ensure the people working at their airports are given fair conditions and are free from sexual harassment. We do not want to see the tourism industry in Fiji, the lifeblood of the country’s economy, compromised because of the actions of Air Terminal Services. We are therefore demanding that the Fiji government today steps up and steps into this dispute to resolve it,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
Since the lock-out Air Terminal Services have employed untrained staff without security clearance. This is compromising safety and security at airports. An Air New Zealand plane took off with damage to the aircraft only detected when it arrived in Auckland. One worker was injured at an airport after an incident involving an unlicenced forklift operator.
Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU, told the rally Australian workers and unions are behind the Fijian airport workers struggle. “Workers rights are human rights. What the ATS is doing is a terrible violation of their workers’ rights. This has spilled over into the safety of our citizens who are travelling to Fiji. Our Government and Foreign Minister are sitting blithely by,” she said.
Members of the Fijian community in Australia were joined at the protesters by the Transport Workers’ Union, Maritime Union of Australia, Health Services Union of Australia, Australian Metal Workers’ Union, Unions NSW, the ACTU, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA and the International Transport Workers’ Federation, among others.