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4% increase comes after a year of negotiations

By Jennifer Kakai HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 27, 2011) – After a year of negotiation with the Government, the Solomon Islands Public Sector Unions finally receive their four percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) payment.

This was after the Government and Solomon Islands Public Sector Union coordinating committee decided for the Government to pay four percent COLA from the 11.5 percent initial demand.

In early March the public sector unions through its coordinating committee issued a seven days strike notice following the government’s failure to pay up their 11.5 percent COLA demand.

Speaking to the Solomon Star yesterday Solomon Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA) general secretary Johnly Hatimoana confirmed that nurses, doctors and other public servants had received the four percent COLA last Friday, December 23.

[PIR editor’s note: In August, the Solomon Islands faced a nationwide strike from the Public Sector Unions, which included doctors, nurses, paramedics, and teachers after failures by the government and the unions to resolve the proposed 11.5 increase in COLA adjustments. By September, union workers and government had concluded their negotiations and brought the COLA up by four percent and included a tax exemption for teachers whose salaries were under US$2,600 a year.]

One public servant who wished not to be named also confirmed receiving his share.

Mr. Hatimoana said teachers and police will receive theirs in this week’s payday December 29 and 30.

He said the public sector unions would like to thank the Government for responding to their demand in time.

He said despite the shortfall from their initial demand they appreciate what was agreed on and paid.

"We would not only agree with the Government if the payment was delayed for next year."

Mr. Hatimoana said they understand the financial difficulty faced by the Government and thus accept the amount paid.

He said his office expects the government to do the same in paying up the 2 percent automatic increment for teachers’ salaries starting next year 2012 as agreed.

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