BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
CHINESE nationals at the Ramu nickel project in Madang are reportedly yet to undertake formal English language training, as required by law.
“The memorandum of agreement (MoA) is yet to be signed between the two parties,” a source said.
The parties are the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations (DLIR) and the Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd.
The source, a senior academic at DWU, said they were still in the dark and would not conduct any training if the MoA was not signed.
It is unclear if an agreement to begin the training has already been signed and in place, although a MCC official said there was one.
Deputy general manager corporate affairs, Wu Xuefeng, said “both the MoA and the training agreement are in place”.
But the DLIR are tightlipped and do not want to confirm the status of the training.
A senior officer who was contacted last week did not want to be bothered by the issue.
“Let’s just leave it as that, I cannot say anymore,” the official said.
Another officer said “we have signed agreement already and training should start”.
But when told that DWU was not aware of the MoA, he refused to go on and referred queries to the secretary’s office.
Attempts to get in touch with the department secretary were in vain as telephone calls went unanswered.
It is understood that Diwai Pacific Limited, the university’s consultancy arm, did conduct some training in 2007 – but this was largely informal and was not a real success.
The MoA that is allegedly yet to be signed is required to formalise the training.
Under section 17(1) of the Labour law all non-citizens must prove that they are proficient in English before being granted a work permit.
The Chinese nationals at MCC can hardly speak English, and were exempted from this section and were issued permits under a special deal.
In exceptional cases, the DLIR secretary may grant work permits to a non-citizen who is unable to demonstrate English proficiency.
But this is done with the understanding that appropriate language training is undertaken a week after arriving in PNG and must continue for 12 months or until the non-citizen is able to demonstrate proficiency.
It is understood that DLIR executives, in April, held talks with DWU to formalise the training and an agreement was conceived between DWU and MCC.
This was to be attached with the formal MoA to be signed by the DLIR and MCC.