FIJI AVIATION WORKERS CONSIDERING STRIKE

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 16, 1999 - PACNEWS/Fiji Times)---Workers at Fiji's airports could go on strike over plans by their new, private employer to offer jobs on contracts ranging from just six months to two years, the Fiji Times reports.

Airports Fiji, Ltd. (AFL) will take over the running of airports and air navigation services from the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji (CAAF) as part of the government's public sector reform program.

Yesterday, CAAF workers received letters stating the number and types of jobs that will be available after the changeover.

Fiji Public Service Association General Secretary, Mahendra Chaudhry, said CAAF has about 500 workers, while only a little more than 100 jobs were advertised in-house in the circular. The contracts offered by the new employer are merely temporary positions, he said, adding that it is "ridiculous" to offer six-month contracts to workers.

AFL chief executive, Alan Lodge, said there will be other jobs for which the company will recruit separately.

CAAF employees have until February 26 to respond to the circular or face being left without a job. However, Chaudhry said the company cannot go ahead with such action when Parliament is yet to approve legislation creating AFL.

The Civil Aviation Reform Bill covering the change will be discussed in Parliament tomorrow.

Chaudhry, who also is leader of the opposition Fiji Labour Party, has advised members of his union not to respond to the circular. He plans to raise the issue in Parliament.

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