7 Sep 2005

Hopes a lengthy Solomon Islands strike close to resolution

1:28 pm on 7 September 2005

There is hope that a long running strike in Solomon Islands will come to an end this week with the dispute hearing close to winding up.

Workers at the Russell Islands Plantation Estate Limited, or RIPEL, have been on strike for 14 months over their demands for the removal of the general manager, John Whiteside.

Tony Kagovai, from the National Union of Workers, says the workers who are part-shareholders in the plantation at Yandina, are surviving by cutting copra and selling it to local buyers.

He says they won't back down on their demands but a resolution could be close to happening.

"We hope that by the end of this week, we will finish the trade dispute panel hearing. And, then they will decide whether the general manager is fit to stay in Yandina or he's not fit. If they declare that John Whiteside is not fit to stay in Yandina, then we will call the workers to return to work immediately."

Tony Kagovai from the National Union of Workers.

Meanwhile, the prime minister, Sir Allen Kemakeza, says there should be a new ownership arrangement at RIPEL.

There are a number of shareholders including the Lavakal trust which are the resource owners, Central Province, central government, the workers, and ICSL.