8 Jun 2005

Dispute continues at Solomons copra plantation

10:14 am on 8 June 2005

Management of the Russell Islands Plantation Estate in Solomon Islands say they will continue to battle out an ongoing dispute with striking workers through the Trade Disputes panel, until there's an outcome.

A high court ruling on Monday dismissed a contempt case brought by RIPEL against the union representing employees at the cocoa and copra plantation in Yandina.

It was alleged the workers had ignored an earlier court order which had ruled the strike action over pay and working conditions, illegal.

The chairman of the RIPEL board, Patrick Wong says the dispute is of national significance, as the outcome has implications for the government, law and order, and foreign investment.

He says the unresolved dispute is costing the copra industry close to 70-thousand US dollars, a month.

"I have no choice. I have my house on the line, my family's been affected and all of that. I think maybe Im the one whose been sent to do this - as the bible says, maybe I've been sent to do this. Maybe Im the test case. I am glad to say Ive been fortunate that it hasn't got to that extent, but I hope some other foreign investors who are very genuine, don't get to this stage."