By Alfred Sasako
ALL employees of Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) will get $5, 000 in special bonuses each, the President of the Workers’ Union of Solomon Islands (WUSI), David Tuhanuku confirmed yesterday.
This will cost SIPA an estimated $2.3 million. The payment would be made this week, Mr Tuhanuku who held talks with the SIPA Management last week told Island Sun.
“Yes, that was agreed. All SIPA employees, except those in the Finance Division, would receive $5, 000 each in special bonuses. Those in the Finance Division would not be getting anything because they have already collected their payments,” Mr Tuhanuku said.
The other group is a selected number of employees from the Stevedoring Section. They received $2, 000 two weeks ago in recognition of their work in improving the efficiency of overseas vessels turn-around time at the Point Cruz wharf.
With an estimated workforce of 457 employees, the special bonus this year would cost SIPA an estimated $2, 285, 000.
“Stevedoring employees who had already received $2, 000 each would get a top-up of $3, 000 each so that everyone is on par in terms of the amount already paid to other employees,” Mr Tuhanuku said.
Mr Tuhanuku also revealed that WUSI and the SIPA Management are negotiating a collective agreement on behalf of SIPA Staff In-House Union to ensure special clauses are incorporated in workers’ contracts.
“These clauses would ensure that incentives and special bonuses paid to staff apply to all staff rather than just a handful of selected ones,” Mr Tuhanuku said.
Insiders told Island Sun last week that the special bonus which was paid in secret to staff of the Finance Division and selected staff of the Stevedoring department triggered a threatened walk out by staff. About 157 staff benefitted from the initial payment, which the Human Resources division was not even aware of.
On learning about the payment, staff downed tools and held impromptu negotiations with management, resulting in half a day delays of overseas vessels leaving and coming in last Friday.
A written undertaking by Management to make the payment that day defused the situation. But the payment was never made, making the situation rather volatile.
SIPA Chief Executive Officer, Eranda Kotelawala, said yesterday the situation was now under control.
WUSI President Tuhanuku said he believed the special bonuses would be disbursed this week, given the assurance by CEO Kotelawala.