Tuesday, August 07, 2007


In case you were wondering those nurses in Fiji are still defying the military government with their strike. And they aren't about to be bullied.

Striking nurses who were detained at the Nasova Police Academy yesterday have been released. The nurses were holding up placards when police and soldiers rounded them up.

Criminal Investigations Department director Aisea Navakamocea confirmed police had warned them before they were released.

The nurses were interviewed but no charges were laid.

The nurses are reported to have returned to the Fiji Nursing Association headquarters to continue protesting as they end the 14th day of their strike today.

The Fiji Nurses Association says that nurses will stand firm and will not be moved by statements made by Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

Fiji Nursing Association, General Secretary Kuini Lutua, who was one of those arrested, declared the nurses are mothers of the country and they will fight to the end.

Still, Lutua says they are looking forward to continue negotiations in trying to solve the impasse.

This is the longest ever strike action to conducted by an essential services union in Fiji.

The following is from the Fiji Times.

Protesters walk free

TWENTY Fiji Nursing Association members were released late yesterday after being taken in for questioning by police for protesting outside Government Buildings where a Cabinet meeting was in progress.

Shortly before midday, security in and around Government Buildings was increased as reports filtered in of a protest there by nurses.

FNA members arrived in pairs with placards and stood across Gladstone Road from Government Buildings, with police and army personnel facing them.

The striking nurses were spread out along Gladstone Road in groups of two and silently held up their placards in the hope Cabinet ministers would see them.

FNA general secretary Kuini Lutua, who was part of the group, said the protesters wanted to show the interim Government that it needed to make a decision soon regarding their grievances.

"They have refused to meet us so we have come down now to show them that these are the messages that we want them to see," she said.

"We need them to make a decision for this country; make a decision for the nurses of this country.

"Nurses are public servants and if they care for this nation, they must care for the workers of this country."

She said they were abiding by the Public Order Act by standing in pairs but were ready to be taken in by police.

"We hope they will see our message; that they will see what we're trying to say because they have refused to talk to us."

The protesters were taken to the Police Academy where they were questioned by a team of officers.

Commissioner of Police Commodore Esala Teleni said last night the FNA members were not charged but their statements were taken by the investigators before they were warned.

"They were only warned verbally but we will keep the file open," he said.

"We understand that they're standing in small groups and holding placards but their motive is very clear."

Commodore Teleni said he felt his officers acted very well in dealing with the protesters.

"We were well aware of their plans to protest and when we were alerted by our intelligence unit, I personally sent a team led by a senior officer to convince them not to come to Government Buildings.

"I was briefed by the senior officer who said that he had warned them (against protesting at Government Buildings). They were verbally warned that it (protest) would be illegal"

Commodore Teleni said all along when the unions were planning to go on strike, police had been allowing that process to go through provided it was done within the ambit of the law.

He said he had personally made a plea in the media to those intending to go on strike and to all the people of Fiji to remain calm but despite that, the FNA members went ahead with their protest.

"But this is a warning and reminder to everyone that we will ensure that people are not intimidated or live in fear."

Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the protesting FNA members should have expected to be arrested by police.

"That's normal, you break the law, you get arrested," he said.

No comments: