The tribunal on Saturday also ordered ATS to pay staff their wages since the lock out began on December 16 last. Unions are now demanding that the company begin negotiations to end an 11-year pay freeze and address concerns about sexual harassment.
“This is a chance for Air Terminal Services to make a fresh start in its dealings with staff. The company must pay the workers their wages immediately and start negotiations that give staff the pay and conditions that allows them to support their families. The company must also ensure staff who were locked-out are not victimised in any way when they return to work. For too long Air Terminal Services workers have struggled,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
“The tribunal ruling has supported the workers’ claim over the lock-out and also helped spare Fiji’s tourism industry which was under threat after ATS began using untrained staff to work at its airports. Workers have proved they will stand together against injustice – and they have the full support of trade unions around the world in so doing,” he added.
Staff who have been locked out began returning to work this week. Last Thursday several Australian and international trade unions held a rally outside Fiji’s consulate in Sydney, demanding an end to the lock-out. Previously, members of New Zealand’s Fijian community along with trade union activists protested outside Fiji’s High Commission in Wellington against the lock-out.
There had been fears around safety and security at Fiji’s airports during the lock-out, because of untrained staff working without security clearances. 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 in December after an incident involving an unlicenced forklift operator.