ATS and Union Agreement Brings Hope for 265 Workers Amidst COVID-19 Recovery

In a significant development, an agreement was signed today at the Ro Lalabalavu House in Suva, marking the return of 265 Air Terminal Services (ATS) workers who were laid off during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agreement reached between ATS and the Federated Airline Staff Association (FASA), represents the successful culmination of three years of negotiations.

Under the terms of the agreement, between 113 and 117 workers are expected to resume their duties immediately, while the remaining employees await the completion of their medical and police clearances, anticipated to be finalised by next week. Notably, the agreement will not impact the current ATS workforce.

To address service delivery delays, ATS will expand its catering, cargo, and passenger services. Although there will be no backpay, the company has pledged to provide a goodwill payment to the returning workers.

Emphasising the government’s philosophy of collaboration for mutual benefit, Professor Biman Prasad, Minister for Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, stated, “We are saying that by working together, we can take the economy, take the country to new heights in the process that everybody benefits—the workers, the government, and the employers. Today’s signing of this agreement between the ATS board and management and the union is part of that step.”

Expressing appreciation for the extensive negotiations, Shradha Sharma, Chair of the ATS board, acknowledged, “A lot of hard work has gone into this since the appointment of the new board. Over the last two months, there have been numerous discussions, meetings, and even sleepless nights, but we have reached this point today.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Civil Aviation, Viliame Gavoka, conveyed his gratitude for the collective efforts that led to the successful signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA). “Through the launch, sometime in February when we indicated the wish of the coalition governments to help the people of ATS to return to work and we articulated that very publicly and we set the stage for what transpired after that,” Gavoka said.

Felix Anthony, National Secretary for the Fiji Trade Union Congress (FTUC), commended the Deputy Prime Ministers’ efforts in ensuring the MOA’s success. He further affirmed that the FTUC stands ready to assist if the union requests, while wishing both parties the very best for future endeavors.

Describing the moment as a time of restoration, FASA President Semisi Turagabaleti conveyed his gratitude on behalf of the ATS workers and their families.

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Photo: Fiji Government

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