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Union Leader Returns With Australian Support

SYDNEY: Fiji Trade Union Congress leader Felix Anthony returned to Fiji today having secured the backing of Australia's powerful airline unions for their embattled colleagues at Airport Fiji Limited.

While in Australia, Anthony also had extended talks with a group of influential MPs from Canberra who flew to Sydney to meet with him.

Leaving Sydney earlier today Anthony said that he discovered that many unions already knew about the problems at Nadi as the civil aviation industry is a truly international workplace.

"There has always been a very good rapport between the Fiji aviation unions and their counterparts in Australia, with assistance at times of industrial tension going back many years," he said.

"I found that the leaders of the Australian unions were disgusted with the way our airport workers have been treated. The Constitutional rights of FPSA members at Nadi in particular, supposedly protected under Section 33 of the Constitution, have been repeatedly violated."

Anthony said that a number of unions have pledged financial, research and industrial support if it is deemed necessary. These unions have taken action in the past to help protect workers rights in Fiji.

"I was pleased to learn that before I had even arrived in Australia groups of rank and file members at Sydney Airport had met, discussed the situation faced by their colleagues at Nadi, and had resolved to support them if requested to do so. More of these meetings are planned next week.

"Our sincere hope is that we don't have to ask for action. It is time that the management of AFL abided by the judicial process and accepted the right of their employees to collective bargaining as it is enshrined in Section 33 of the Constitution. The first step is to talk to the workers' representatives, the Fiji Public Service Association.

"Our Australian colleagues will be watching the situation closely over the next few weeks to see if any progress is made. Then we will be meeting again to make decisions."


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