10 Oct 2002

Striking Solomons aviation staff refuse talks

5:25 pm on 10 October 2002

Striking aviation, immigration and quarantine officers in Solomon Islands are refusing further negotiations with the government over its failure to pay them compensation money.

The General Secretary of the Solomon Islands Public Employees Union, Clement Waiwori, says the officers have exhausted all avenues of negotiations and no option but to be on strike.

Their indefinite strike, which began last night, has forced the cancellation of all domestic and international flights.

Mr Waiwori says those on strike want two and half thousand US dollars each for harrassment they claim to have suffered at the hands of militants after the coup two years ago.

He says excuses by the government that it has no funds to pay them are wrong because it had the money to pay for such claims to officers in the Treasury, Customs, and Police.

Mr Waiwori says the officers are protesting about the way government prioritises who should or should not receive compensation payments.

"All discussions and all negotiations, are exhausted, and there is a situation, where there is no compromise. We have already told him if you can pay out four million dollars to certain groups of people, I just can't understand why you can't pay us..I mean you have to treat everybody equal, you don't have the funds, you tell us you don't have the funds don't pay anybody."

Clement Waiwori

Meanwhile, a plane in Brisbane is awaiting the outcome of last minute negotiations to see if it can take off for Honiara this afternoon.