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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Times, July 19) - Russell Islands Plantations Estate Limited, RIPEL, says it will challenge government in court for suspending its business license to operate.

Chairman of RIPEL, Patrick Wong, said the company's Solicitor had been instructed to take up the legal challenge against government as a matter of urgency.

The court challenge comes amidst Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's announcement in an interview with SIBC of the company's suspended license of business operation, stating "government was acting in the best interest of humanitarian ground".

Prime Minister Sogavare said the ongoing row between the trade union representing the workers and the company management has dragged on too long causing a "humanitarian catastrophe".

[PIR editor’s note: The strike, which began in 2004, reportedly stemmed from employee layoffs at RIPEL’s copra plantation. The Russell Islands are located in the country’s Central Province.]

According to Mr. Sogavare, the only quick solution to alleviate human suffering among company employees and their families victimized by the row is to suspend the company's operation license.

But Mr. Wong argued that government had taken action based on wrong information and inappropriate reasons. He said no formal notice was received by the company on the government's suspension of the company's operational license.

Solomon Times

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