STRIKE THREAT LOOMS AT FIJI ELECTRICITY AUTHORITY

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 17, 1999 - PACNEWS/INCL)---Workers at Fiji's Electricity Authority (FEA) are threatening strike action over the restructure of the authority into three commercial companies -- which the workers say will not recognize their unions.

The threat follows an impasse in talks between the three unions representing FEA workers, and the authority's management.

FEA Chairman, Lionel Yee, has reportedly intervened, trying to organize a meeting between the unions and the authority's chief executive, Nizam-Ud-Dean.

The FEA board has also issued a statement reassuring workers there will not be any lay-offs when the authority splits into three companies this year.

It also has given assurances that the unions will be recognized by the three companies, Power Gen, Power Lines and Mega Power, when they begin operations.

However, the General Secretary of the Fiji Electricity and Allied Workers Union, John Paul, said the FEA management is doing its own thing despite recommendations by Parliament's Sector Standing Committee on Economic Services, on the Electricity Reform Bill which covers the FEA reform.

Paul said that apart from its recommendation that there be no lay-offs unless employees volunteer to leave, the Parliamentary committee had also recommended that the restructure maintain the existing collective bargaining agreements between the unions and FEA's successors.

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