The People of Tonga Need Our Help
On Saturday 15 January 2022, the neighbouring Pacific Island nation of Tonga was hit by a catastrophic volcanic eruption, with shock-waves felt around the globe. The eruption was followed by a tsunami, furthering the scale of what is an unprecedented disaster. One immediate impact was the communication blackout, with access to the internet and telecommunications being affected, posing complications for relief missions, and cutting Tonga off from the wider world.
The continued falling ash has also hampered efforts to deliver water and other supplies by air. The people of Tonga need our help.
We have now made contact with our local union, the Tongan Public Service Associations since the disaster, and we know that health and public sector workers are already leading rescue and relief missions, without outside support. We know that workers and their families will need our solidarity.
My counterpart and PSA Secretary General Mele Amanaki has sought to promote unionism across the region and is currently a member of our local PSI's Asia Pacific Regional Executive Committee.
Thankfully Sister Mele, her family and PSA members are safe following the eruption.
The key challenge facing members now is accessing clean water given most households rely on tank water.
As such we are working with NZ PSA to coordinate a shipment of water blasters, water vacuums and ladders to assist members secure their water supply. NZ PSA has organised the first shipment of water blasters, water vacuums and ladders to go tomorrow and then another shipment on the 14th of Feb.
The Tonga Public Service Association has been a beacon of public service trade unionism in the region, recently leading efforts to organise informal sector workers as well as public sector workers.
PSI will work closely with the Tongan PSA to provide support to their members and communities.
If you would like to donate to PSI's solidarity fund for Tonga, you can transfer funds to the account below and insert reference TONGA SF.
Account name: Public Services International (Australia) Ltd
Bank name: Westpac Bank
Bank address: 114 William Street, Melbourne, 3000
Bank account number: 033003 / 614260
SWIFT Code: WPACAU2s
KAREN BATT TOM REDDINGTON
CPSU PSI ASIA PACIFIC