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By Frederica Delailomaloma

SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 12, 2000 – Fiji Times)---Angry nurses hurled abuse at union officials yesterday after news that a planned strike action had been lifted.

The nurses, who had planned to go on a national strike beginning midnight tonight, had to be calmed down by Fiji Nursing Association members.

Association Secretary-General Elina Dulakiverata said a misunderstanding led to the confrontation.

After an emergency meeting at FNA Headquarters in Suva, she said members were willing to wait while negotiations were held with the Public Service Commission on a salary review and working conditions.

They have given until March 31 for negotiations to be completed.

Yesterday, nurses lifted a ban on overtime as a gesture of goodwill.

Nurses want a starting salary of F$ 13,000 (US$ 6,711), up F$ 4,000 (US$ 2,065) from the present figure.

The association believes better salaries will stop members from leaving to work overseas.

Tears of relief flowed down the faces of members after differences were settled yesterday.

Earlier, staff at the association office received numerous telephone calls with members verbally abusing management.

Ms Dulakiverata said there was a misunderstanding when nurses read newspaper reports of an immediate lifting of the overtime ban and the end of the strike threat.

A member said there was fear that this would be the reaction from members around the country.

"But everything is ironed out now and we have all agreed to negotiate with the Public Service Commission in this review period,'' Mrs. Dulakiverata said.

Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry said, "I have given them until March 31. What Government has ever done that?''

Mrs. Dulakiverata said negotiations on a pay review and better working conditions would not come overnight.

"Let's face it, these things don't happen overnight and the initial period they gave us was seven months,'' she said.

"They've brought that down to three months, and this is our only chance to get what for years we have been crying for.''

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

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