High Court orders staff to return to work

National, Normal

The National, Monday October 21st, 2013


THE national court in Madang issued an interim order to Lutheran Shipping employees on strike in Madang to resume work no later than midday today.

Judge David Cannings issued the order, saying the people of Papua New Guinea needed the shipping service and it should operate as soon as possible.

More than 200 employees of the shipping company had stopped work because they were not being paid on time over administrative issues between the management, chief executive Agua Nombri and the Lutheran Church counsel. 

The employees, headed by sacked human resource manager Michael Belem, took out a court order to restrain police from harassing and arresting employees over this issue and for the court to order the removal of Nombri.

Lawyer representing them, Seth Tanei, from the Public Solicitor’s Office, said in court that the employees wanted Nombri to be removed before they returned to work.

Nombri’s lawyer Teine Jonny, of Napu Lawyers in Port Moresby, said the removal of Nombri was a separate matter which was pending in court with a restraining order and it  was not right for the current court proceeding to hear that.

After listening to both parties last Friday, Cannings adjourned the case to 4pm the same day when he ordered the employees to return to work.

He ordered that Nombri remain in office and pursue his case with the church counsel, police not to be restrained from arresting any of the parties but must report any arrest made to the Public Solicitor’s Office with 24 hours.

Cannings ordered that both parties remain calm and not provoke situations related to the matter and not to lock office doors or gates.

He added to the order that Belem and nine others terminated six months ago over this matter be reinstated no later than  Nov 1 and that all salaries for the workers to paid.

If wages for employees is not paid on time, the person responsible should explain immediately the reason to the court in the form of an affidavit, Cannings said.

He will review the matter on Friday.