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Opinion, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Transparency Needed Over Dividends Documented Paid To ATSET

EDITORIAL: Transparency Needed Over Dividends Documented Paid To ATSET
January 13
12:06 2018

Someone needs to clear the air over the $5.78 million said to have been paid to the Air Terminal Services Employees Trust (ATSET).

This is the dividend that is supposed to go to the workers.

Yet the group of striking workers’ main grievance in this ATS dispute is they feel they need to be paid more money.

But no one in the union and employees’ trust has explained about the $5.78 million. It has taken Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to ask questions.

He is right to do so. This is a lot of money that the workers deserve to benefit from because they have worked hard for it.

The ATS management has kept its side of the agreement by paying out the money to the ATSET.

Yet, it’s been vilified by the union and the strikers in this dispute for failing to listen and act on their grievances.

This newspaper has sighted receipts dating back to 2007 of money paid to ATSET, on behalf of the workers.

Before they rock up to march through Nadi Town this morning, the workers who say they have not received dividends should be demanding to know more about the $5.78 million.

Viliame Finau, the secretary of ATSET, is not forthcoming when the Fiji Sun tries to talk to him. He says they have not got the money.

He would only say that they would divulge information if Mr Bainimarama came to see them.

But they should know that Prime Minister Bainimarama would not do that because the strike is illegal.

And he cannot be seen to be supporting something that is against the law.

Everyone in this country looks up to him to uphold the rule of law.

Why can’t those involved disclose the details of the millions to clear the air?

What is there to hide?

If they have the truth on their side, as they claimed, they should not be hesitant or afraid to speak out.

It appears they are playing a sort of game, buoyed by the support they are getting from Opposition politicians, other trade unions and groups with vested interest in the dispute.

They are apparently trying to force the  PM to visit them at the picket line.

That kind of tactic won’t work.

If they are really serious about accountability in this matter, they should release the information.

Some of the basic questions that need to be asked are:

1)         Who received the payments and issued the receipts from ATSET? The ATS management kept its receipts as evidence that the money was paid out

2)         Was the money paid straight to the ATSET’s bank account or by cheque?

3)          Does the ATSET bank account  show that the money was deposited?

4)           If the money was deposited, was it withdrawn? If it was withdrawn, by whom and for what purpose?

5)         Such a large sum of money cannot just mysteriously not be accounted for when the striking workers claim they are not getting what they should.

Prime Minister Bainimarama has rightly queried the money because Government owns 51 per cent of ATS.

The workers own 49 per cent.

More importantly the money in question belongs to the workers who say they need the money.

We cannot afford to ignore it or sweep it under the mat.

Transparency is needed. As the PM pointed out.


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