27 May 2003

Dispute at Fiji Sawmill resolved quickly says receiver

4:11 pm on 27 May 2003

A dispute at a sawmill on Vanua Levu in Fiji has been successfully resolved.

Ilaitia Boila, the receiver for Valebasoga Tropik Boards Limited, says indigenous landowners were not connected to the protestors who forcefully seized the premises and were then arrested.

He says there were claims of unpaid debts by the leader of the protestors but these had been paid some time ago.

Mr Boila says he spoke to the ringleader to find out whether there was a problem.

"We asked him O.K., where is the statement...Do you know whether we owe you any money...He said no, and when we look at our record, everything was paid a few months ago, so obviously it was a cover for something else...So that is something our local police are looking into."

Mr Boila says he doesn't know why the protestors took over the mill but they weren't connected to either the landowners or the workers who are happy to see them go.

22 protestors were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and forcible entry.