VANUATU STEVEDORES: JOIN POLITICAL PARTY OR LEAVE

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Employees allege pressure to join Union of Moderate Parties

By Esther Tinning SANTO, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Aug. 30, 2011) – The move by Vanuatu’s North Islands Stevedoring Company Limited (NISCOL) to reinstate husband of Deputy Mayor, Elisabeth Tasso, soon after she changed allegiance to join the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP) clearly revealed [the political party’s strong] influence in the company, although [the company claims it answers only to its shareholders.] This is the view of a politician and political observer, Paul Solomon, when he visited Daily Post recently to raise his concern.

Councilor Elisabeth Tasso’s husband, who was an employee with the NISCOL company for over 20 years, was terminated during the formation of the Luganville Municipal Council. The termination took affect after attempts to convince her to join a bloc in the formation of the council failed, but one day after she decided to join the UMP bloc, Chief Tasso was reinstated as an employee with NISCOL.

[PIR editor's report: In April 2011, a report was issued through the Finance Minister that showed NISCOL over 450 million vatu (US$4.78 million) in debt. The funds were said to have been used for political purposes instead of for the company itself.]

Solomon said this is a clear fact, and UMP leaders can no longer deny the fact that they are controlling the company to a larger extend instead of the owners who are supposedly the Sanma province, Malampa and Penama provinces as well as the government which owns 10% share of the company. Solomon said the deputy mayor’s move has clearly shown that Tasso made the decision for the interest of her own family and not in the interest of the people who have laid their trust on her and voted her to her position.

Meanwhile, Tasso defended her position in an interview with the post saying that she decided to make this move because there was unfair treatment in her alliance grouping in the fight for position and as the only lady in the LMC council she feels her rights have been infringed.

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