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Soltai Fish to resume operations this month

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 4, 2010) - SOLTAI Fish and Processing Ltd expects to resume operations before the end of the month, its management says.

General Manager Thomas Dorku said this in response to claims that factory workers at Noro, Western Province, are angry at the current suspension of operations.

The company suspended operations early last month after it ran out of packaging materials.

Mr. Dorku said while they wait for the packaging materials to arrive, a team is undertaking important and long-needed maintenance and repair.

"These repairs would in any case have caused an interruption of fish processing," he said.

Dorku said that delivery of packaging materials is expected between the second and third weeks of this month.

"We expect to resume production before the end of the month," he said. Employees have been scheduled and report to work in assigned groups on a rotating basis. As mentioned earlier, employees continue to be paid during this interruption to production."

Meanwhile, the company’s popular Solomon Blue second grade taiyo appeared to be running out of stocks from main suppliers in Honiara.

Wholesalers who still have the popular product in their stock have increased their prices slightly.

It’s feared if stocks get so low, prices of second grade taiyo may shoot up.

Meanwhile in Noro, journalist Brian Beti reported that workers are angry at the situation the company is currently facing.

Mr. Beti claimed because of the situation workers on long term casual employment are out of jobs.

"The situation has forced many of the employees living in Noro to return to gardening within the town boundary, a familiar sort of shifting cultivation found in the back hills of Honiara," Beti said.

He said some members of a previously government appointed Soltai board have questioned why Tri-Marine International (TMI), the foreign partner in Soltai, was given the advantage over loin exports.

The recently sacked Minister for Fisheries Nollen Leni was linked to the initial negotiation and was also blamed for the decision.

"The provincial government in Gizo is watching with intent and is making its stand in no uncertain terms that it totally dislikes TMI’s management style.

"Gizo wants the national government to agree to a Philippines company to come a fish in their waters to supply the Noro factory," Mr Beti said.

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