Nurses on the warpath again

Fiji Times, July 22, 2005

Members of the Fiji Nursing Association will seek a mandate to strike as soon as possible because of a breach of agreement by the Public Service Commission over salaries.

Association general secretary Kuini Lutua said nurses around Fiji called their office yesterday to complain about the cut in salaries and payments made by the Government for those who were overpaid.

"This is a complete breach of the agreement that was settled between the union and PSC to upgrade the salaries of nurses who have been working earnestly and were underpaid," she said.

She said the commission had agreed it would sort out the problems faced by the 800 nurses who had been underpaid first before looking at the overpayment made to more than 400 members.

She nurses withdrew from strike action after the assurance was given late last year.

Mrs Lutua said the commission did not inform the union of the cut in salaries and instead wrote to the Health Ministry on the issue.

"We should be the ones to be informed first because our members are the ones affected and yesterday they scaled the salaries down for those who graduated in 2000, 2001 and 2003 to $11,000 instead of the $12,325 they were receiving. "What the commission should know is that most of these nurses have taken out loans for their homes and with this decrease, they can not make their payments."

She said this was the kind of attitude that forced nurses to look for greener pastures overseas.

Fiji nurses are in great demand in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Mrs Lutua said the over payment for more than 400 nurses was the mistake of the commission and they did not see why the nurses should be reimbursing the Government.

Questions sent to PSC chief executive Anare Jale and health chief executive Doctor Lepani Waqatakirewa on the issue remained unanswered yesterday.

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