Solomons Port Employees Vote On Whether To Join Union

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Strike threat forces management to agree to poll

By Eddie Osifelo

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 4, 2015) – About 171 employees of Solomon Islands Port Authority (SIPA) will vote in a blind ballot today in Honiara to determine a majority rule on whether to join union or not after proposing a strike.

SIPA management agreed to use the democratic process after the employees have signed on a 28-day strike notice.

The notice was served on the management Tuesday last week and is due 23rd February.

The strike threat came as SIPA welcomed its new chief executive officer (CEO), Australian Collin Yow, last week.

The employees decided on that course of action after the management refused to allow its employees to join Workers Union of Solomon Islands (WUSI).

WUSI was established after the Solomon Islands National Union of Workers (SINUW) was deregistered on the orders of the High Court.

Mr Yow told Solomon Star yesterday, the authority recognises WUSI and acknowledges the right of the individual to become a member of the union of their own free will.

However, Yow said this is on the condition that all employees are given the right to cast their vote independently, in a blind ballot, without fear or favour.

He said the voting will be attended by the union representative to ensure that the outcome of the result is fair and equitable.

"If more than 50 percent votes are recorded, the employees are free to join the Workers Union.

"But should employees choose not to vote to join the Union, a staff welfare committee will be established," Yow said.

He said in this scenario, committee members will be appointed to work with management to come to a collective agreement to ensure employees’ rights are recognised and upheld.

SIPA management stands to welcome any outcome of the blind ballot vote.

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