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By Andrew Casey

SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 23, 2000 - LabourStart)---Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, who is being held hostage with other MPs in the Parliamentary complex, has sent out a message: his ardor for social reform and constitutional government has not faded.

The hostage crisis will not be over very quickly according to Rajeshwar Singh, the National Secretary of the Fiji Public Service Association.

And Rajeshwar Singh said Mahendra Chaudhry would not be hiding once he is released.

"He will not sit with doctors. He won't disappear into medical treatment or trauma counseling.

"The message he sent out was clear. He wants to see this out to the end," Rajeshwar Singh said.

Mahendra Chaudhry wants the bans to intensify because he wants to keep up the struggle for a return to the legitimate, constitutional, government of Fiji.

Rajeshwar Singh said that is the democratically elected People's Coalition government, led by Mahendra Chaudhry's Labour Party.

Harvest Boycott

Rajeshwar Singh is this morning in Lautoka -- on the west of the main island -- with other top union officials helping cane harvesters who are organizing a farmer’s boycott.

"The boycott of the harvest is still being organized. We are providing back-up for the organizers, as well as moral support," Mr. Singh said.

Singh said his next priority was to organize a huge demonstration of Fiji public servants who have been told they had to accept a 20 percent pay cut because of the crisis.

Crisis Not Over Soon

The union leader said he was not convinced that the crisis will be over for some time.

Already this morning the 10:00 a.m. deadline has slipped back to 1:30 p.m. for George Speight's people and the Army to sign an accord.

"Before the hostages are released we will have to go through a few stages. The Army wants to see all firearms returned," Mr. Singh said.

There are said to be more than 800 automatic guns in the hands of George Speight's people - mainly stolen from military and police armories.

After the guns are returned, the Army will then issue an amnesty to Speight and his thugs.

Only then will the hostages be released from the Parliamentary complex where they have been held for more than a month.

Nurses, Teachers And Other Public Servants Rally

All public sector unions are committed to campaigning against the planned 20 percent cut in their wages to pay for the political and economic crisis triggered off by George Speight.

"The Fiji nurses union won -- after a 12 month campaign -- a 15 percent pay increase just before George Speight stormed Parliament.

"The nurses put a lot of effort into that campaign so they don't want to accept this pay cut," Rajeshwar Singh of the Fiji Public Service Association said.

Singh chairs the Confederation of Public Sector Unions, which includes the Fiji Nurses Association, Fijian Teachers Association, Viti National Workers Union, Fiji Public Service Association and Fiji Public Employees Union.

When the protest goes ahead nurses have decided to walk off their jobs, teachers to boycott classes and civil servants refuse to work.

The Confederation has put forward alternative measures to cut costs rather than have member’s pay cut.

These alternative measures, put to the Public Services Commission, include reviewing, canceling or delaying:

· all types of appointments, including relieving and acting;

· overseas training and attachments;

· transfers;

· use of phone (including mobile), faxes and Internet;

· use of government vehicles; and

· overseas postings and reducing the size of all missions

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