Operator open to talks

Operator open to talks

Fiji Times – 21 March, 2019

FIJI Airports says it is open to holding dialogue and discussions with air traffic controllers “to hear any issues they have”.

In a statement last night, Fiji Airports executive chairman Faiz Khan said he had taken note of an “order by the minister” but would not be making any media comments “at the present time”.

When pressed, Fiji Airports would not elaborate on which minister it was alluding to, nor would it divulge the contents of the said order.

The statements by Mr Khan comes amid claims that a skeleton crew of air traffic controllers has been operating the control towers for the past 72 hours.

This newspaper understands only five out of the 37 staff members have been at work since Monday, March 18. It is understood the absence of workers is linked to claims of longstanding grievances over pay and working conditions.

In response to queries about the skeleton crew, Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji acting chief executive officer Ajai Kumar said they were aware of the situation and were monitoring closely to ensure safety was maintained at all times. Mr Khan said his door remained open for talks.

“Over the last couple of days we have held a number of meetings with our controllers, and thanked them for their participation,” he said. “As part of Fiji Airports culture, we have at all times said that our doors are open to our controllers for dialogue and discussions.”

Meanwhile, Fiji Public Service Association general secretary Rajeshwar Singh said he received a copy of an order from Industrial Relations Minister, Parveen Kumar declaring the strike action by the air traffic controllers illegal.

“I don’t know why it was delivered to me because the FPSA has not been involved in any discussions between the controllers and the management,” he said