BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
AIR traffic controllers in Port Moresby, Nadzab, Mt Hagen, Goroka and Tokua (Rabaul) yesterday resolved to go on strike over several protracted issues, including conditions of employment.
They resolved at a lunch-time meeting in Port Moresby yesterday to begin the industrial action from 4.06pm tomorrow unless their employer, PNG Air Services Ltd (PNGASL), gives a written assurance that their demands will be addressed.
Tomorrow is the last day of a 21-day ultimatum that the PNG Air Traffic Controllers’ Union had given the PNGASL management.
“We will go on strike if no written assurance is given on our demands, we will take the weekend off,” union president John Paul said.
The looming strike could affect up to 100 domestic and international flights during the weekend.
International over-flyer traffic, which is said to rake in K24 million annually for PNGASL, will also be disrupted.
After the weekend off, the air traffic controllers would return to work on Monday but would proceed with a sit-in protest, Mr Paul said.
He said that if there was no reply by Tuesday, a “work-to-rule” schedule would be implemented.
Mr Paul said this meant they would work from 7.45am to 4.06pm during the week and take the weekend off.
This means there would be no shift work – and if still nothing transpired, a complete withdrawal from work would follow.
Mr Paul said the outstanding issues they wanted addressed included better employment and salary conditions and for outstanding entitlements to be paid.
He said the union also wanted the reinstatement of two sidelined executives, a review of the orgnisational structure and for payment of outstanding union allowances and representation on the PNGASL board.
Mr Paul said most of these issues dated back to when they were still employed by the former Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Union executives met with the PNGASL management on Tuesday and the outcome was a “verbal assurance” that the issues would be addressed.
The Civil Aviation National Technical Staff Association has given its full support to the air traffic controllers.
President Jonathan Sogai confirmed this after the air traffic controllers in Port Moresby voted in favour of the industrial action.
The PNGASL said it was “willing to address these issues through proper dialogue”.
“What we want now is for open dialogue to take place,” a spokesman said.