Fiji Water workers strike enters day four – Union ‘hopeful’ for a resolution

A National Union of Workers (NUW) official is hopeful Fiji Water employees who are entering their fourth day on strike will return to work shortly.

On Tuesday, a group of workers for Fiji Water went on strike over pay disputes at the multi-million dollar US-owned company’s water bottling plant in Yaqara and the Naikabula depot in Lautoka.

NUW’s industrial relations officer Mererai Vatege said the parties were currently working on a resolution.

“There have been some developments, the parties are currently talking,” Vatege said.

“We’re very hopeful and positive that this will be resolved soon.”

Vatege said the NUW met with Ministry of Labour officials on Thursday and are now awaiting a response from Fiji Water.

However, she was unable to give a date when she expected the matters to be resolved by.

The employees have continued with their strike, holding signs with messages calling for pay increases and working conditions.

Talks broke down between Fiji Water and workers on 8 April.

The workers claim the company has failed pay owed overtime and have not made income adjustments to inflation, along with other pay related issues.

Fiji Water's signpost to its Yaqara valley production base in Fiji

RNZ Pacific have requested comment from Fiji Water but have not had a response.

However, in a statement Wednesday, a company spokesperson told Fijian media it was regrettable workers had engaged in a strike.

“The decision to strike is also unlawful because these issues have been submitted to the Ministry of Employment, which has not yet decided on the dispute,” the spokesperson said.

“Fiji Water takes great pride in being one of the best employers in Fiji and operating one of the most advanced and safest plants in the world.”

The spokesperson said the company provided some of the highest and best benefits in Fiji, including a 13.5 per cent wage increase in 2022.

They said recent offers to the union equal an additional 17 percent pay increase for hourly-paid workers and a new roster pattern that would give workers 17 more days off each year.

“Instead, the union has elected to engage in a strike that harms workers who will not receive wages while on strike.”

The spokesperson said the company would remain committed to resolving the contested issues with the union.

Vatege said employees want to return to work but are united in strike action.

She said they will only return once an agreement is signed between the union and the employer.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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