Flights resume after strike at Honiara airport


International flights in and out of Honiara, Solomon Islands, have resumed after a 12-hour stoppage following a nationwide strike by government workers of whom Civil Aviation officers are members. Domestic services have also resumed.

The strike was called off after the issue was referred to the country’s arbitrating panel, the Solomon Islands Trade Disputes Panel for Arbitration, which met Monday morning and made its ruling.

The trade disputes panel has ruled that the parties be given a 21-day period for negotiations, against a 14-day period suggested by the public service union.

The disputes panel also ruled that the appointed teams of the two parties must meet to begin the negotiations within the next seven days.

The trade disputes panel had opened the hearing Monday morning asking both parties if the matter should enter into arbitration rather than conciliation.

Speaking on behalf of the government, attorney general Gabriel Suri told the panel that negotiations must first take place before arbitration.

Mr. Suri said the government feels that Solomon Islands Public Employees Union (SIPEU)’s log of claims need to be properly refined so that issues are much more focused.

He also said the government also feels that options for negotiations have not been fully exhausted and that the government has drawn up a reasonable time-frame of 21-days to complete proposed negotiations.

After failing to secure arbitration in round one, SIPEU general secretary Paul Belande asked the panel to consider a two-week negotiation period instead.

Mr. Belande has said the union’s log of claims is well-presented, well-documented and well-researched and that it doesn’t take 21 days to read a 6-page document.

The trade disputes panel, however, ruled that the government and SIPEU must begin negotiations within the next seven days and have 21-days to come to a conclusion.

The panel also ordered that any outcome must be reported back to them.