Australian union activists will protest in Sydney today in support of 220 Fijian aviation ground handlers who have been locked out of their workplace at Nadi International Airport by employer Air Terminal Services (ATS) since December 16, 2017.
The rally, organized by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), will call on the Fijian Government – a 51 percent shareholder in ATS – to take urgent action to end the lockout and allow workers to return to work.
ITF President Paddy Crumlin today urged the Fijian Government to act: “For over a month, 220 workers have been locked out, simply for defending basic workers’ rights.
“The Fijian Government has the power to resolve this dispute and, with the livelihoods of hundreds of workers and their families on the line, we need an urgent resolution.”
The workers – baggage handlers, check-in staff, engineers and caterers – were targeted after attending a recent meeting where issues of mismanagement and appalling conditions were discussed, including an 11-year pay freeze.
A letter by Paddy Crumlin to the Fijian Consulate in Sydney will be delivered at the rally.
“The ITF is alarmed about reports that experienced ground crew have been replaced by workers who lack sufficient experience,” the letter says.
“This has put safety standards at significant risk. Reports have emerged that “temporary” staff failed to report damage sustained to an Air New Zealand aircraft on the tarmac in Nadi.
“The airline only became aware of the damage when engineers inspected the jet on its return to Auckland.
“Tourism is of course a major enterprise in Fiji, and for the industry to be successful travelers must be confident that their safety and security is assured.
“Today, the ITF and affiliated unions, alongside the Australian Council of Trade Unions, request that you urgently communicate to the Government of Fiji our appeal that government ministers move swiftly to ensure the workers can immediately return to work.”
The ITF is calling on the Government of Fiji to resolve this situation without delay by:
* allowing all workers to return to work without any loss in conditions;
* ensuring that workers do not suffer any financial loss for the period of the dispute;
* commitments that no worker will be victimized for their participation in the dispute;
*agree to a timeline to resolve all other issues, in particular the workers’ cost of living adjustments.
“The government must act to end this crisis and ensure that safety concerns don’t cause travelers to think twice about visiting Fiji,” Mr Crumlin said.