THE sit-in protest by the Solomon Islands Nursing Association (SINA) was prohibited and illegal.
This stern comment was echoed by the Secretary to the Prime Minister Dr. Jimmy Rodgers during a talk-back show over the national broadcaster.
Mr. Rodgers said that under the COVID regulations; there is a provision that gives the Prime Minister Powers to suspend any trade union that acts in contravention to the regulations or disrupts the smooth flow of services.
Dr. Rodgers said that the SINA executive has used the COVID-19 situation as leverage to unduly put pressure on the government to advance its agenda.
“Instead of following what the law said, they asked their members to withdraw their service, and that is prohibited.
“Secondly, under the essential services act, it is incumbent on them to provide a 28 days’ notice before they can withdraw any services.
He said that SINA has not served its employer with notice because of the state of emergency, thus their withdrawal of service is equivalent to strike action.
He said the nurses that were suspended were disciplined by and under the public service act and regulation.
The reason for the suspension is to do with the breach of their own responsibility.
“These nurses are not employees of SINA, rather they are government workers, and therefore, their loyalty must be first and foremost to serve and abide by the relevant government regulations,” he said.
“It is important to note that the suspension is not something the government wants but rather driven by SINA via the called for the illegal sit-in protest during the period of the state of emergency.
“So the suspension is not because they are nurses, rather because they committed an offense as public servants by putting SINA ahead of their public duties.
Attorney General John Muria Junior also shared similar sentiments.
He also said that the constitution also caters for the continuation of essential services during a state of emergencies.
“When they did not turn up for their duties, they instigated a national security issue that could be proven detrimental to the people of Solomon Islands if the situation was not handled carefully,” he said.