NEWS

Tribunal Order Best Possible Outcome: ATS Management

The Air Terminal Services (ATS) management says it welcomes the decision from the Tribunal that requires ATS workers who walked off their jobs on  December 16,  2017 to return to
21 Jan 2018 11:36
Tribunal Order Best Possible Outcome: ATS Management
ATS workers with lawyer Kevueli Tunidau (third from right) at the Nadi Magistrates court. Photo: Lusi Banuve

The Air Terminal Services (ATS) management says it welcomes the decision from the Tribunal that requires ATS workers who walked off their jobs on  December 16,  2017 to return to work.

“This is the best possible outcome from the situation; ATS employees are set to return to work, while also being held accountable for their unlawful action,” an ATS statement said last night.

“As articulated in the decision, ATS does not view this outcome as a win for either party, but more a win for the value of Fijian employment law.

“ATS notes that the decision from the Tribunal does not prevent any disciplinary measures from being taken against the workers for abandoning their positions and engaging in an unlawful walkout.    

“While acknowledging that the decision requires the workers to return to their posts, ATS is seeking further legal advice on certain aspects of the Tribunal decision to consider additional legal steps.

“ATS particularly notes that the decision requires that workers resolve all legitimate grievances through good faith bargaining within the existing conflict resolution frameworks, as set out by the Employment Relations Act 2007.

“The decision goes on to state that the employees and their trade union must follow the terms of registered collective agreements and the legal requirements for participating in industrial conduct, and cannot pick and choose when they seek protection of the law. 

“ATS also fully endorses the way forward articulated in the decision that calls for a partnered approach in resolving any and all issues that arise in the workplace. 

“ATS will also be implementing certain security measures to prevent any further economic sabotage from taking place in the workplace to ensure there are no serious disruptions to ATS services and threats to the Fijian economy in the future.

“This is of particular concern given the politicisation of the situation by some actors. 

“Finally, ATS Management would like to thank all those ATS employees who have remained in their posts since 16 December, along with the staff of Fiji Airways, Air New Zealand and the Hotel Association and other stakeholders for helping to provide uninterrupted air terminal services, ensuring that the Nadi Airport continued to operate during this period.”

The union also welcomed the Tribunal order.

The Employment Relations Tribunal  ruled that the workers must be reinstated to their jobs with full pay back dated to December 16, the day they walked off their jobs.

The Fiji Trades Union Congress general secretary Felix Anthony said it was the right order.

Resident Magistrate Andrew See presided over the case which was heard at the Nadi Magistrates Court yesterday.

ATS management has been given 48 hours to take back the employees and further act upon the ruling given yesterday.

The courtroom was jam-packed with more than 150 people in the chambers and more sat outside waiting for the outcome of the hearing.

The ruling stated the following.

“That the applicant employer must give effect to this order by issuing to all such employees, new work rosters, security access ID cards and any other pre start-work requirements within 48 hours.”

“That the Applicant employer thereafter on a case by case basis ensure that the pay and the entitlement of each employee are reviewed and where necessary reinstituted in accordance with the law.”

WHAT THE UNION SAID

The FTUC praised the workers for their solidarity and what it called an inspiration to all workers of this country.

“It has not been an easy 34 days,” Mr Anthony told jubilant workers following the ruling by Mr See.

He said “The court today gave an order and it is the right one.”

He said the company made a big mistake in  asking the Tribunal to determine whether the issue was a strike or lockout.

The Tribunal order means:

The workers must be allowed to return to work in accordance with the Collective Agreement.

By 1pm on Monday, ATS must issue the workers their rosters, ID cards and whatever was needed for those who were locked out to return to work.

ATS will have to treat each worker, case by case and pay them from December 16 last year.

The workers must comply with Article 25 B of the Master Agreement which means the workers must work together on issues and solve indifferences with the company.

The order by the Tribunal given last week for both parties to file submissions by January 24 has been suspended.

“This basically means go back to work, get paid and behave,” Mr Anthony told the workers.

Air Terminal Services Employees Trust trustee Manasa Ratuvili said justice had been served.

“I honour the union members for what they have achieved.

“Not many people can do this – sacrificing not only themselves, but their families to achieve for the greater good of all.”

“As part owners of this company we will demand a full financial overview on the company’s financial since we were locked out.”

Edited by Percy Kean

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj


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