FIJI INFORMATION MINISTER SAYS 2001 ELECTION LIKELY

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 7, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Fiji's Information Minister says an election will probably be held next year -- between July and December.

Ratu Inoke Kubuabola told Radio Fiji that the interim government hopes to have a new constitution in place by next year -- and will then call an election.

He said the government will call an emergency meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs next month to appoint a Constitutional Review Commission.

Previously, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase had said his interim government would rule for up to three years.

 

UNIONS THREATEN ACTION AGAINST FIJI GOVERNMENT

SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 7, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Public sector unions in Fiji are threatening to take the country's interim government to court over a 12-and-a-half percent pay cut for civil servants announced in a mini-budget a fortnight ago.

Unions believe the Public Service Commission, in announcing the pay cut, may have breached an agreement signed last year.

Chairman of the Confederation of Trade Unions, Rajeshwar Singh, said the agreement stipulates that no salary reductions are to take place within a three-year period.

He said any pay cuts in the civil service would cripple state services and drastically affect the livelihood of government employees.

The interim government claims the salary cut is inevitable as part of efforts to rehabilitate the economy following the May 19 coup.

Fiji's Reserve Bank predicts the economy will shrink by between 13 to 15 percent this year, with public revenue reduced by more than US$ 68 million.

 

FIJI TEACHERS THREATEN STRIKE

SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 8, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Teachers in Fiji have lodged notice of an industrial dispute over a 12-and-a-half percent pay cut for civil servants.

As Radio Australia’s Ofa Kaukimoce reports from Suva, the teachers union has indicated that it might launch a strike action if talks with the new interim government fail.

"The Union General Secretary, Agni Deo Singh, says they will try to avoid the option to strike over the 12-point-five percent pay cut brought about by the government. But it is still very much an alternative.

"The union has, however, lodged a trade dispute over the pay cut.

"He says a 21-day notice will soon be given to the Labour Ministry to take a strike mandate from the members. Singh says if a mandate is given by members, they will proceed with the required 28-day notice.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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