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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 26, 2000 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---Nurses will get a pay raise of $830 a year, backdated to July 1997.

About 80 percent of the nurses in the public service have been awarded the salary increase, Permanent Secretary for Health Luke Rokovada said.

The government has honored its commitment to the nurses by agreeing to pay this interim pay rise, he said.

Mr. Rokovada said the government is arranging to pay increases in work-related allowances for nurses backdated to July 1997.

The government is considering recommendations for further improvements in nurses' salaries.

Dr. Rokovada said that a strike notice served by the Fiji Nursing Association was rejected by the Ministry of Labor because it does not comply with the Trade Disputes Act.

"The Secretary of Cabinet had also written to the Fiji Nursing Association (FNA) advising them that the recommendation on the salaries review for nurses was with Cabinet and receiving attention by the Cabinet office and the Ministry of Finance," he said.

A meeting was held last Thursday between Health Minister Dr. Isimeli Cokanasiga, his staff, and the FNA president and officials.

Mr. Rokovada said it was made clear to FNA that the government had implemented some measures to improve the salaries and working conditions of nurses.

"These included an interim increase in salaries of $830 per annum for 1,392 nurses or approximately 80 percent of the total nursing complement in the Public Service, to bring the salaries of nurses in line with paramedicals and other health professionals," he said.

"There have also been increases in various allowances payable to nurses," he added. "The salaries increase of $830 per annum, although an interim arrangement, has been paid from the middle of March this year and backdated to January 1, 2000."

Mr. Rokovada said the ministry appeals to nurses to exercise restraint and responsibility as the issue of further improvements in salaries is being considered in the Cabinet office and the Ministry of Finance.

He said the ministry has activated a contingency plan for a nurses' overtime ban in the Colonial War Memorial Hospital.

The ministry is appealing to non-government organizations and volunteers to help the hospital ensure that normal services are provided.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.

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