23 Mar 2011

RIPEL says Solomons court ruling is vindication

2:30 pm on 23 March 2011

The company which owns the Russell Islands Plantation Estate in Solomon Islands feels vindicated after the High Court ruled in its favour for workers to pay millions of dollars in compensation for damages.

RIPEL was a key producer of cocoa and copra products and major contributor to the economy until it became embroiled in court action with the workers and union seven years ago.

Patrick Wong, who is the chairman of both RIPEL and its investor, Lever Solomons Limited, says it's been a lengthy dispute to resolve.

But says he isn't surprised by the union's plan to appeal.

The National Union of Workers had alleged human rights abuses, mismanagement and unfair dismissals back in 2004.

"The losing party has the right to appeal and in this case the union has the right to appeal in the court of appeal. They are given 30 days to lodge their appeal. I can only wait on what grounds they plan to appeal on, before I can comment on that."

Patrick Wong says the RIPEL estate is now in ruins and the company has lost millions of dollars in the failed investment.

He says the company has also just served a caveat on the union's head office in Honiara.