RIPEL Chairman Denounces Solomons Workers Union Claims

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Wong contends union declaration made ‘in contempt of court’

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 4, 2012) – The Solomon Islands company Russell Islands Plantation Estate Limited, or RIPEL, says the National Union of Workers could be in contempt of court for maintaining that its strike at the plant in 2004 was legal.

RIPEL is disputing a statement the Solomon Islands National Union of Workers (SINUW) has issued, saying the strike was legal.

The Chairman of RIPEL, Patrick Wong says the High Court ruled in 2004 that the strike was illegal and the union twice failed to have the ruling overturned in the Court of Appeal.

He believes the union could be in contempt of court.

"It’s outrageous, simply outrageous that they should be making such comments. They are blaming everybody from the court of appeal judges to the high court, to the government, but themselves. The court has made it extremely clear in November, which was the first appeal they had set aside that was dismissed. Further again in 2005, in July, when they went to the court of appeal they lost."

Patrick Wong says the union still owes RIPEL about one million U.S. dollars in compensation following the High Court ruling.

He hopes this can be redeemed through the auction of a building owned by the union this Friday.

[PIR editor’s note: SINUW released a statement alleging that Wong had "deceived stakeholders," seized assets meant for investment, and took advantage of "political and social instability" to take over RIPEL with the intention of selling assets without re-investing money into the plantation company.]

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