Vanuatu Internal Affairs Minister Halts Union Worker Strike

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Planned action could have disrupted ACP/EU meeting

By Royson Willie

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 4, 2012) – The Minister of Internal Affairs, George Wells, has used his ministerial power to issue an order late yesterday afternoon to stop any industrial strike action from taking place.

This order of deferral of industrial action was issue under section 34 of the Trade Disputes Act, which allows the minister to issue such order.

The order comes after notices of strike action were issued by the National Workers Union members who were employed by the Hotels and Resorts in Vanuatu as well as those employed at Airports Vanuatu Limited.

According to Labour Commissioner Lionel Kaluat, the industrial action has not been stopped, but rather deferred but the process will be allowed to continue.

He said the main reason for this deference is not only because of the important international meeting hosted this month by Vanuatu, the ACP/EU meeting, but also because of the financial difficulties faced in the country at this time especially by private companies.

The order applies to "the Vanuatu National Worker’s Union" and its members, who are employed by the Hotels and Resorts in Vanuatu and by Airports Vanuatu Limited; or all other registered members of the Vanuatu National Workers Union and any member of the general public who has an interest in the issues surrounding members of the Vanuatu National Workers Union and Hotels and Resorts in Vanuatu and the Airports Vanuatu Limited.

Its enforcement began yesterday and will remain until July 30 where no strike action is allowed to take place within this period.

During this period, the conciliator appointed to promote a settlement of the disputes must complete the conciliator process.

Labour Commissioner Kaluat said the grievances that the industrial action were planned over were related to two staff of Airports Vanuatu Limited that were sacked and that of the hotel workers related to wages, but the latter issue is "complicated" and still not clear at this stage and this will be further discussed with those concerned to get a clearer explanation.

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