Judge rules striking staff not wrong

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 26th March 2013

 PNG Forest Products employees did not break any industrial law when they went on strike in September last year, Waigani National Court Judge Ere Kariko ruled yesterday.

“The strike was not illegal,” Kariko said and ordered PNG Forest Products to pay the disgruntled employees’ legal costs.

Some of the issues the workers went on strike over were that they did not undergo medical check-ups and the company did not offer training for locals and localisation of positions.

Kariko was told that in August 2008, union executives wrote to management raising their concerns and gave the company a seven-day ultimatum of strike action.

The registrar of industrial disputes then wrote to the workers informing them that a strike would be deemed illegal as there was no industrial issue.

The company sought several reliefs in court, including illegal loss of business and restraint on any further strike actions.

Kariko said all matters concerned with disputes between an employer and employee were an industrial matter.

He said under the training and localisation of non-citizens act, locals have to be provided training.

He said employees could not be permanently restrained from striking.

“I cannot agree that they have to go through the process, otherwise there will be no strike,” he said.