9 Feb 2007

Trade unions in Solomon Islands threaten strike over plans to re-arm police

8:58 am on 9 February 2007

Trade unions in Solomon Islands are threatening a nationwide strike to protest against Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's controversial plan to re-arm police.

The plan is opposed by the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, or RAMSI, which removed thousands of guns from the community after arriving in the country three and a half years ago.

The parliamentary Opposition, the National Council of Women and church groups also object to Mr Sogavare's push to put guns back in the hands of local officers.

However, the prime minister has vowed to press ahead regardless, starting with his personal protection unit.

The Solomon Islands Council of Trade Unions said yesterday (thursday) it intended joining forces with civil society groups to fight the push.

Its national secretary, Tony Kagovai, said the council was also planning a nationwide strike if the government continued to ignore the wishes of the people.

He says it is abundantly clear that Solomons workers do not want to go back to the dark days of the rule of the gun.

Mr Kagovai says all nine affiliates making up the council, including teachers, nurses and doctors, had very strong feedback from their members that people were fiercely opposed to rearmament.