FIJI’S PAFCO UNION CLAIMS F$ 3 MILLION DUE TO FISHING COMPANY WORKERS

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FIJI’S PAFCO UNION CLAIMS F$ 3 MILLION DUE TO FISHING COMPANY WORKERS

By Devika Narayan

SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 28, 2002 - Fiji Times/Pasifik Nius)---Fiji's Pacific Fishing Company Employees Union is claiming F$ 3 million (US$ 1,315,950) in wages are due its members terminated by PAFCO in 1997, the Fiji Times reports.

General secretary Tomasi Tokalauvere said the total wages due to its terminated members in March 2000 was about F$ 1.5 million (US$ 657,975), which had since increased to F$ 3 million (US$ 1,315,950).

The High Court last week ordered PAFCO, based at Levuka on Ovalau Island, to reinstate 24 employees it sacked in 1997 and pay all wages due to them.

PAFCO alleged that these employees were dismissed because they were consistently absent from work.

The PAFCO Employees Union had taken PAFCO to court after it failed to comply with the Arbitration Tribunal's decision to reemploy the workers.

Tokalauvere said the government should introduce legislation that would jail employers who disregarded Arbitration Tribunal rulings.

"If the government is planning to put trade unionists who break rules behind bars then it should also put the employers who break the rules behind bars," he said.

"This is a classic case of an employer disregarding the arbitration ruling and the rule should be the same for the unions and the employers."

High Court judge Justice John Byrne ruled that the High Court had jurisdiction to enforce awards of the Arbitration Tribunal.

The union will meet Justice Byrne on February 8 to discuss its claims.

Title -- 3496 LABOR: PAFCO union in $3 million pay demand Date -- 28 January 2002 Byline -- Devika Narayan Origin -- Pasifik Nius

Source -- Fiji Times, 28/1/02 Copyright – FT Status – Unabridged

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