SOLOMONS STRIKE OFF, NEGOTIATIONS TO RESUME

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Public workers demand all ministers be at table

By Jennifer Kakai HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 31, 2011) – The public sector unions yesterday afternoon had called off the ongoing industrial action, meaning all members should resume normal duty today. This was after the public sector unions met with permanent secretaries of relevant ministries, special secretary to the Prime Minister Andrew Muaki and secretary to special duty John Tuhaika.

[PIR editor's note: The nationwide strike that concerned nursing, medical and educational workers in the Solomon Islands last week was due to members of the Public Sector Unions seeking an 11.5 percent cost of living adjustment to their salaries. After a meeting with government officials, who countered with a 2 percent increase, yielded no results, members went on strike across the country.]

According to Solomon Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA) general secretary Johnley Hatimoana, they had called off the strike action after the long meeting with the government party.

"We had advised all employees to return to work tomorrow (today)."

He said they had agreed for negotiations to restart between them and the Government which will start today at 9.30am. Hatimoana said with the agreement to continue with future negotiation they had demanded the presences of every permanent secretary of relevant ministries and also for the Government to withdraw their referral of the matter to the Trade Dispute Panel (TDP). He added if future negotiations between them and the government fail, then they will look at the conciliation process.

Chairman of TDP Francis Luza when contacted on the issue yesterday afternoon said they haven’t receive any withdrawal of referral from the Government but will see if it will be sent to them later. He said with the conciliation thing he can appoint any conciliator to deal with both parties to settle the matter, but that is if he sees there is room for that to take place. However he said they can call for preliminary hearing on the matter. "We prioritize the matter as it is of the national interest and therefore can call for preliminary hearing."

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