BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
WORKERS Union of Solomon Islands (WUSI) has issued a 28-day strike notice to the Malaita Provincial Government for lack of response to a log of claims dating back to 2016.
General Secretary of WUSI Tony Kagovai issued the strike notice which takes effect on February 15 (this week) and lapses on March 14 (next month).
Kagovai says the issues are based on the following:
-Continuous refusal by Malaita Provincial Assembly to implement the 9 percent wage increase infection.
-On the 30th July, 2020, the Union has sent a Log of Claims on behalf of the Direct Employees of the Province (both Admin and Health workers) for the year 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021 to the Provincial Secretary but he had not responded to it.
-In and around September of 2020, the GS of WUSI and the Chairman of the Union Committee have personally met with the Premier and he had personally assured them that he will deal and sort out the matter and that all correspondences be directed to him.
-Furthermore, following the assurance by the Premier in September 2020, the Union have written to the Premier on the 3rd September, 15th October 2020 and 9th December 2020. Unfortunately, the Office of the Premier had failed to respond or informed the Union of its position of the matter to this date.
Malaita’s Provincial Secretary Fredrick Faabasua said the matters raised in the notice are not new matters.
In highlighting this, Faabasua however cautioned the union that it is equally important to appreciate that there are outstanding issues regarding the validity of the agreements the union was making reference to.
For instance whether the agreements as claimed in the notice, were executed in accordance with the terms of the existing governing rules of the Malaita Provincial Government and thus have the enforceability of the law.
It is vitally important that as part of due diligence check, in ensuring that the current MPG Administration is implementing lawful decisions, it is incumbent on the MPG to first verify these important matters/issues before further consideration is given to the request made by the union.
In the meantime MPG will be taking the following actions immediately:
-Set a date to meet with the provincial planning team and others with a view to prepare and finalize its new budget. It is hoped that matters raised in the notice will be discussed.
-In the proposed meeting, matters for clarifications on the validity of the collective agreement dated 24 July 2017 and other claims will also form part of the discussion.
-Also it is important for MPG to carry out awareness program targeting direct employees, on matters pertaining to how direct employees’ gross and net salaries are being calculated; so as to ascertain whether such a method is consistent with the Unified Salary Structure applied by MoFT.
“These are some of the important issues attached to the entire claim in your letter that my administration wishes to address,” Faabasua said this in his letter to the president of WUSI.
The provincial secretary also reminds WUSI that the country is still under the State of Public Emergency (SOPE).
“Any action taken on your part that borders on; or may militate towards placing the general public at risk may be deemed unlawful under the existing Covid-19 regulations.”
The provincial secretary hopes that both parties will be able to reach an understanding; so as to completely avoid a strike action taken by members under essential services during these unprecedented times when the State of Public Emergency is still in place domestically.