Disruption of service uncalled for

Editorial, Normal

The National,Tuesday March 29th, 2016

 One of the biggest problems facing Papua New Guinea society today is the lack of good will many individuals display when they interact with others and carry on in their daily lives.

It may not be overt and strikingly obvious but the small things, just as much as the bigger actions explains a lot about how many people think, and the logic that they use to justify what they do.

Over most of the month of March, the PNG Power Workers Union, as well as their counter-parts in the telecommunications industry, has been at loggerheads with the state on claims they feel the powers that be have not seriously addressed.

The apparent shedding of a portion of the workforce and other matters related to the leadership of one of these two state-owned institutions have compelled the unions to fight hard and pressure the higher rungs of their leadership.

But as in all negotiations to do with workplace conditions and staffing, they must be in line with the overall plan to take the entities forward and this almost always entails some hard decisions.

Invariably, the workforce will bear the brunt of the initial readjustment because more often than not that is where the changes must 

be made to realign the 

company to suit the new policy.

That is a fact of corporate culture and one must remember that these state-owned enterprises are no longer completely in the public service but are ostensibly operating as private companies with a business model that requires them to be more accountable to share holders and to be competitive in the open market.

So there will be casualties. That is a given.

But rather than look at it from the point of view that these are practical decisions that are being made in order to safe guard the company, some individuals feel the need to react to their impending redundancies or demotions by hurting the entity they think has wronged them.

If there was one simple answer to any problem then rest assured it would be the first option but unfortunately negations between the boards of directors, who represent not just the state but other shareholder interests, and the unions require compromises and brokering that is not always appealing nor understood by the worker down the line.

The deliberate cutting of power lines and sabotaging of communications lines last week by what many suspect are disgruntled workers of both industries is not only counter-productive to their cause but holds to ransom the majority of the population that relies heavily on these services.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been compelled to publically warn anyone caught vandalising and/or damaging the property of both service providers that they will face the full force of the law.

That they will be made to answer for their actions because their crimes are not only against these entities – power and communication – but are against the public in general. 

That means against the common good and against every citizen who relies on these services directly or indirectly and in a country with a population of some seven and half million that is a lot of people to be affecting with such wanton and self-defeating acts.

Granted the cutting of the power lines may be done out of frustration and the removal of copper wiring crucial for tele-communications is done primarily to cripple the service and to get the attention of the authorities as well as for financial gain. 

What the perpetrators of these crimes do not fully understand is that they are affecting much more than just the state or the boards with whom they have the issue.

If a life or lives are lost because in one way of another the lack of any of these services prevented help from reaching those in need or from life-saving treatment or in some way delayed treatment then those people have blood on their hands and thus must be punished accordingly.

This is not just a simple matter of vandalism, wilful property damage, theft or grand theft, because its ramifications go beyond those crimes. 

The cost to the majority cannot be trivialised. 

Millions of kina and productivity are wasted whenever the aforementioned services are affected and at the end of the day is a disservice to and a crime against the majority.