Wednesday, 6 February 2008 5:08 PM

Kagovai Calls on Whiteside to "Just Give Up"

The General Secretary of the Solomon Islands National Union of Workers, Tony Kagovai says the Union did not breach any court orders on the ongoing Russell Islands Plantations Estates Limited (RIPEL) saga.

Mr. Kagovai made the comment in response to continuous accusations from the General Manager of RIPEL, John Whiteside, that Union breached court orders.

He said that Mr. Whiteside should "just give up" on this RIPEL saga that has been going since 2004.

"If he continues to say we breached court orders, then why aren't we behind bars?" Mr. Kagovai questioned.

He explained that the RIPEL saga is centered on the Trade Disputes Panel's facts and substance which the General Manager Whiteside has to consider.

"We issued a 28 days strike notice to SINUW members but the General Manager instead terminated workers, so no choice but face the consequence of 'eye to eye, tooth for a tooth'," Mr. Kagovai said.

He told Solomon Times that the decision has been made by the Trade Disputes Panel for Mr. Whiteside to be terminated as General Manager.

"The termination will be suitable for all the workers that Mr. Whiteside had sacked, they will be reinstated immediately," Mr. Kagovai said.

"The law of equity which prescribed the principal of natural justice states that if you come to court, you come with clean hands and in this matter, RIPEL management referred the matter to the Trade Dispute Panel," he explained.

Solomon Times was informed that while the matter was being pursued by the Panel, referred to by Mr. Whiteside, "Section 10 is applied where the employer should not terminate or lock any employees and on the other hand, the Union should not continue with strike actions."

"But Mr. Whiteside breached Section 10 by continuing to terminate employees while the issue was being looked into by the Panel," Mr. Kagovai said.

He said that Mr. Whiteside breaching Section 10 created the dispute that has gone back and forth from Magistrates Court to High Court to this day.

"The General Manager should just wait for his other two outstanding cases next month and then it is finished, the RIPEL saga is a forgone conclusion," Mr. Kagovai said.

An attempt to get comment from Mr. Whiteside was not successful.