18 Jul 2005

Taiwan confirms it's paying wages of Tuvalu and Kiribati workers stranded on Nauru

8:37 pm on 18 July 2005

Taiwan is reinforcing its diplomatic ties with Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru, by confirming it's footing the bill to solve a labour problem that's affected all three Pacific Island nations.

Taipei is to pay off Kiribati and Tuvalu workers on Nauru.

They'd been working in phosphate mining but Nauru ran out of money to pay them so they've been stranded in Nauru for years.

Tuvalu's deputy prime minister, Saufatu Sopoaga, says the Taiwan deal was confirmed last week when he met the presidents of Nauru and Kiribati.

Mr Sopoaga says Taiwan confirmed it'll meet the cost of early payment of outstanding backpay.

The total owed is about three POINT five million US dollars.

But Mr Sopoaga wouldn't say how much Taiwan was giving, nor when the workers might expect their payoffs.

"There has been some indication that they could pay the money as soon as the Forum Secretariat could confirm to them that the two countries, Tuvalu and Kiribati, are ready to receive the amount of money. It's going to come out as regional aid."

Mr Sopoaga says the Forum Secretariat has been asked to be quick in managing the disbursal of Taiwan's funds.