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700 nurses stop work despite dialogue

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By HELEN TARAWA
ABOUT 700 nurses from the National Capital District, Alotau and Mendi walked off their jobs yesterday despite their union executives’ announcement to call off a stop-work to allow for a dialogue with the Government.
Those in Alotau (about 100) and Mendi (about 400) in Southern Highlands said they went ahead because they had not heard otherwise from their union executives.
PNG Nurses Association Port Moresby branch president Rosemary Bates told The National that 200 members had decided to go ahead with the protest despite the association’s decision to cancel the stop-work.
Bates said members covering the Port Moresby General Hospital, NCD Health, Department of Health, Laloki and PNG Defence Force decided to go ahead with the stop-work because they were not happy with comments by Department of Personnel Management Secretary John Kali and Industrial Registrar Helen Saleu that their action would not be illegal. “It was the members’ decision and they all assembled at the nurses association building at 8am where they waited for the outcome of the meeting by the Government,” Bates said.
“Our president Steven Nawik told us to wait for the outcome of the decision but the members decided to go ahead as planned.”
Alotau and Mendi nurses also withdrew their services yesterday because they said there was no formal advice from the officials so they maintained their stand to walk off their jobs.
Alotau president Grace Mark confirmed that more than 100 nurses stopped work yesterday and had gathered at the union office awaiting response from their union officials.
“Our members were adamant about going ahead with the stop-work because we did not get any official notice from the union executives,” Mark said.
“Our chief executive officer for Alotau General Hospital was informed of our actions because it is a long-awaited issue and the nurses are confident about taking necessary action.
“We will return tomorrow (today) and continue our stop-work until we get a response from the union executives.”
Mendi branch president Benedict Laba said 400-plus nurses stopped work yesterday as planned.
He said that the nurses were from Hela and Southern Highlands provincial health services.
Association general secretary Edward Foe said the NCD nurses decided to stop work and it was beyond its control.
“It’s their decision to walk out of work and we really don’t have much control over that,” Foe said.

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