11 Sep 2002

Solomon Islands government cannot meet outstanding pay demands

10:21 am on 11 September 2002

A nationwide strike by the public sector is expected to take place in Solomon Islands from today after the government stated it was unable to meet all outstanding salaries.

The Solomon Islands Council of Trade unions, had given the government until yesterday afternoon to come up with the money or face strike action by all affiliated unions, such as teachers, nurses and aviation workers.

The permanent secretary of the finance ministry, Lloyd Powell, says it's been made clear to the unions that the arrears won't be paid at this point.

Mr Powell says the unions are aware that the revenue coming in is well short of what would be required to meet all outstanding payments.

"It's absolutely impossible. There's seventeen million outstanding and we get approximately three million in a week. That is known by everyone in the country and has been known for a long time that it is not possible to pay that."

The nurses union and the paramedics are already striking but they are expected to be joined by all public sector unions.