22 Nov 2004

Violence fear in Solomon Islands as workers occupy company buildings

9:30 pm on 22 November 2004

The owners of Solomon Islands largest private sector employer say there could be violence if the Government and police don't act to end an illegal strike.

Workers from the Russell Islands Plantation Estates, who have been in strike since June, on Monday occupied part of the company's mill and administration block in Yandina in Central Province.

Patrick Wong, the chairman of the company's board, says the strike is illegal and this has been upheld with the failure of a union appeal earlier this month.

He says the stand off is the latest test for the Solomon Islands Government.

"I have said to people in higher office that this is nothing dissimilar to June 2000 (when the coup occurred), with the exception that no one has been shot yet, but they are taking the law into their own hands."