UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: May 16th, 301 AP.

President downplays Public Service strike; OL Kemp in trouble over remarks

A mass strike by possibly hundreds of thousands of Utanian public servants has prompted a security clamp down in the Presidential complex, and a retraction from the President.

President Okarvits declared that the plan to slash public servant wages by up to 20% was only "one of many options" being considered by cabinet to promote Utani participation in the skilled, services workforce. He said the Utanian Public Service Federation (UPSF) would be "jumping the gun" to strike now over something that was "little more than a suggestion at this stage".

The UPSF, the country's largest union, was not moved. Their spokesman said that the President should "publicly forswear against such a plan" for the union to be satisfied. While there was "no immediate plans" for a mass walk-out strike, the union warned the President that "any attempt to promote or discuss the proposal would be met with such a reaction". The UPSF represents over a third of a million public servants in Utania.

Opposition Leader Thomas Kemp was incensed by the threat, and called on the President to outlaw the union using the Emergency Powers clause of the constitution. The clause empowers the President to seize total control of the country constitutionally, but would prevent him ever running for elected office again. Through Emergency Powers, the President could outlaw any threat of strike and arbitrarily arrest the union leaders who threatened it.

This statement caused a furour in the Parliament, with leftist and even moderate right-wing politicians condemning the opposition leader's "foolhardy" suggestion. Mr Kemp denied he meant quite what was said, saying that he felt the President was "taking the threat lying down, and should not kow-tow to unionist threats".

Mr Kemp's outburst overshadowed the threat of strike, his comments, suggested some opposition politicians, were more in line with Nationalist policy, not Conservative Party policy.

©UPA, 301 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)