12 Jan 2004

More talks to be held in Solomon Islands to avert possible public sector strike

11:50 am on 12 January 2004

Public sector unions in Solomon Islands have withdrawn their notice of a proposed national strike after the government expressed a willingness to talk.

Arrangements have been made for a meeting between union reps and government officials tomorrow.

The head of the Solomon Island Public Employees Union, Clement Waiwori, says the government move comes after a 28-day strike notice was given to the government should they not conduct talks between the two parties.

The combined 7-thousand members are angry that the government has ignored a Trade Disputes Panel recommendation for a backdated payrise.

Mr Waiwori says the prime minister Sir Allan Kemakeza's explanation that the economic climate is not right for the back-dated pay is puzzling.

"I think he's not talking like a prime minister of Solomon Islands, he is talking like a prime minister of Australia or New Zealand. Being a prime minister of Solomon Islands, he should realise that the welfare of Solomon Islanders, public servants who have not been given any recognition or any increase for the last eight or ten years. They don't understand when he talks about all those financial arguments."

Mr Waiwori says the same arguments were presented to the Disputes Panel and it still ruled in favour of the unions.