100 end strike

Main Stories, National

MORE than 100 striking Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) employees have returned to work at the Western province mine following a court order obtained by the developer.
The court order had stated that the strike was illegal and all OTML employees must return to work.
However, production at the Tabubil mine has not resumed.
Pressure on the 1,500 workers to end their two-week-old strike has also come from the management in
an open letter to the employees, by the Industrial
Registrar who visited the mine in the first week of the strike and by Government mediators from the
Minerals and Resources Authority.
All these requests have been ignored.
Since the closure on April 1, OTML’s losses has been estimated to be about K100 million.
According to reports yesterday, the OTML management has also received numerous calls from concerned employees wanting to return to work but were prevented from leaving the camp by others.
Steps were also being taken to sack workers who have refused to return to work in breach of the industrial agreement, their employee contracts and Wednesday’s court order.
OTML said the sacked workers would receive their entitlements and be repatriated to their places of origin as per the current HR records.
“This is a regretful situation that OTML management has tried hard to avoid,” it said.
“OTML is fully committed to resolving employee grievances around the table with the employees at work, however, the demand and conditions set by the union for a return to work were unacceptable, including an immediate cash payment of US$10,000 (K26,917) into the bank accounts of striking workers.”
It said another condition was for a change of rules of a trust that OTML had no legal authority to undertake regarding the SISS payment distributions.
With the employees back at work, the mediation process proposed by the Government could start and parties would commit to resolving the current dispute, and other issues, within an agreed timeframe.
Should the parties fail not to be able to resolve any matters in that timeframe, then these maters will be referred to an independent arbitrator for judgment.
The workers had gone on a strike on April 1, among other issues, primarily over the unfair distribution of the SISS monies.