The Solomon Islands National University (SINU) has defended its decision to evict former employees from the campus housing grounds. Pictures circulated via social media of the eviction has caused an outcry from online commentators. Most describe the eviction as in-humane and condemned SINU for the cause of action. But SINU Public Relations Officer, Mr. Estee Lonamei said SINU has exhausted all options of removal already as the former employees have been residing in SINU property for more than a year. “I don’t know who is leading the former staff to believe that SINU still owe them money, especially Long Service Benefit’, Lonamei said. He explained that since graduating from being a college to university, the institution no longer pays its staff Long Service Benefit but rather annual gratuity payments. ‘Their work contract clearly stated out the work conditions and benefits’, Lonamei said. He said following the end of work contracts for the employees, they should vacate the properties owned by SINU and start a new life for themselves. Since then, the matter was brought to the courts where SINU won the case.
‘After the court ruled in our favor, the former employees now owe SINU more than what they have been entitled to receive from us. Because they have been living illegally for the past years and the rental price for the houses are not cheap’, Lonamei said. He said SINU lost more than $3m from the 40 plus houses that were occupied by former employees. “Some of them have left already after they lose their case. A few still occupy the houses’, Lonamei said. A former employee said SINU still owe them Long Service Benefits. She said they have been locked out of the houses since last week. ‘So we are just residing in the extensions that we built next to the houses. The security officers have locked the doors. They removed all our belongings and left them outside for the sun and the rain’. A good number of the former staff being evicted were auxiliary staff who were employed under the administration of SICHE. ‘We were only following orders from our bosses’ a security guard told Tavuli News. ‘We were given copies of the high court order to safe guard our work. A lot of the people affected were angry when we approached them’. The eviction exercise commenced at the Panatina Campus and will also be carried out at the Kukum Campus.