UNION PROTESTS LAYOFFS AT SOLOMONS SOAP PLANT

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, June 5) - Solomon Islands National Union of Workers is concerned with the dismissal of Solomon Soaps local workers in what it says is a breach of the country’s labor laws.

Some workers were dismissed and others put on half pay because of the company’s inability to obtain coconut oil from its supplier, Solomon Islands Tropical Products (STP).

The supplier refused to sell its products to SSL for reasons only known to both parties.

Yesterday, the soap manufacturing company attempted to purchase $100,000 worth of oil from the supplier, but was again refused.

"I am not interested with reasons or causes that bring about this situation, said Tony Kagovai, the SINUW General Secretary. "However, I am deeply concerned with the hardship and suffering of Solomon Islands employees, who are the innocent victims of what is plainly a breach and continuing breach of Solomon Islands Laws by STP, under Section 17 of the Consumer Protection Act of 1995."

General Manager of Solomon Soaps, Graham Gilmore, said the refusal by STP to supply coconut oil is doing financial harm to the soap company.

"The supplier does not seem to have any idea of business ethics nor do it appear to have any idea of the laws that control business in Solomon Islands," he said.

Gilmore said the company dismissed the 24 workers, most of whom are women, because there is no packing to be done at the factory.

Meanwhile, Kagovai believes that STP has plans to export oil.

"We applaud this move to export, but not until the traditional domestic market (SSL) has been supplied and Solomon Islands workers (at SSL) are no longer suffering; there will be no export until then," he said.

Solomon Star was unable to get comments from STP before this paper went to press last night.

June 6, 2005

Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com/

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