WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 7) – Fiji’s public sector unions are preparing for strike action in defiance of the State of Emergency laws currently in force in the country.

The Fiji Sun reports that the Public Service Association has asked the registrar of trade unions to supervise a secret ballot for industrial action.

The association’s general secretary, Rajeshwar Singh, says the unions have resorted to this measure in anticipation of any surprises that may be sprung on them by the interim administration.

Minister for public service, Poseci Bune, has proposed slashing public servants’ pay, reducing their retiring age from 60 to 55 and withdrawing from a pay agreement signed by the deposed Qarase government with the unions last year.

Mr Singh says while the unions want to negotiate in good faith, Mr Bune’s comments yesterday about how much the state would save by his measures were not an indication of good faith.

He says the unions have proposed other ways in which the state can save money.

Rajeshwar Singh says if negotiations break down or no favourable answer is received, union members would take industrial action.

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