TELECOM FIJI LAYS OFF 120 WORKERS

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Union disputes action

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 31, 2009) – Telecom Fiji has sent 120 employees home in a move that has angered the workers' union.

The Fiji Posts and Telecommunication Employees Association confirmed 120 members had been made redundant. But association general secretary Attar Singh said the company had failed to provide the union with a list of the members sent home.

Mr Singh was irate over the fact that Telecom did not secure tax concessions on the redundancy payouts before the decision was made to send people home.

He said the company went ahead with the redundancies, deciding that the maximum tax deducted would be refunded to members once FIRCA approval was obtained.

"We are reporting an employment dispute on the redundancy selection criteria and the formula used to decide the packages given to our members," he said.

Telecom public relations manager Vanessa Kilner said the redundancy terms were "a confidential matter" between the company and staff. She refused to be drawn on the developments over taxation on the redundancy payouts.

"With regards to FIRCA, this issue is still in process and, therefore, we would like to withhold comment," she said.

Mr Singh said the union has engaged lawyers to argue its case.

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