Nukundj: Weather services issues handled

Transport PNG

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure,Westly Nukundi, has clarified for the benefit of the travelling public in particular, that the recent strike actions taking by the NationalWeather Services staff has been handled adequately.
He said the the issues that the NWS staff consider outstanding had been adequately addressed and understandings established for moving forward.
“I am compelled to respond to the recent unauthorised statements attributed to the staff and leaders of the National Weather Services in the newspapers, relating to their purported outstanding Salaries and Allowances.
“These have been factually untrue and lack integrity as their issues have been addressed by the Management of the Department of Transport.”
The issues with the weather services staff pay levels and benefits has evolved since the start of the last decade where they wanted to maintain their salary levels, even after they had been paid out their original CAA Salary Fixation Agreement Entitlements.
This meant they were now supposed to revert to normal Public Service Salary Structure.“I am informed by the Secretary of the Department of Transport that the strike is illegal, since the NWS is part of the Department, and is a Division headed by a Director,”Nukundj said.
“Their conducts are acts of serious in subordination but more seriously bordering on sabotage which is a serious criminal matter relating to breaches of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)international protocols on transport safety and security.
“They will be held to account for their actions through firm disciplinary interventions.
“I understand that the Department of Transport Management has met with the NWS on numerous occasions since December 2017, including two compulsory meetings chaired by the Arbitration Tribunal.
“It has been explained at these meetings that the Government has directed for agencies to maintain their operational budget levels in light of the current period of belt tightening by all where austerity measures have been implemented.”He said to accommodate the adjustment to their salaries and allowances in 2017, specific budget requests were made in the 2018
Budget Submission but due to the circumstances described above,they could not secure the necessary appropriations in the 2018 Budget.Nukundj said the Management none the less pursued the matter further by making representations to the Budget Management Committee,chaired by the Chief Secretary and managed to secure K1.7 million which was approved by the Department
of Treasury in March 2018.
“As will be appreciated, getting approval is one thing and getting money into the bank accounts are another. But we managed to have the warrants released by the Treasury and cash is now available to make the payments.“
I am further informed that the Department of Personnel Management,which controls the Public Service Payroll, advised through their Compliance Division that the adjustments would be reflected in Pay 9 which is the next PPE 25th April,and will be backdated,” he said.
“I personally conveyed this to the NWS staff when I met with them this month. The fact that they have decided to continue their stop work despite this assurance by me as the Minister begs the question as to their real motive, which would be considered an act of sabotage leading to the undermining of national security.
“I was satisfied that the matter had been adequately addressed but wanting to resolve the issue, I offered to address the NWS staff, even opting to go down to their office when they failed to come to Enga Haus on two consecutive days where I had  waited for them.
“The fact that the NWS staff have decided to continue with their strike is not only demeaning, but portrays arrogance on their leaders’ part. All of them should hang their heads in
shame.
“Everyone else is making a sacrifice under the circumstances and for the NWS Staff to do this in light of the above is shameful to say the least.
They owe the nation an apology.”
“The Director appointed these leaders to pursue the Salary and Allowances Issues in 2017 so I fail to understand how they could continue to operate when they were disbanded
last week.
“They no longer have the standing and approval of the director to continue to talk on behalf of the staff and more specifically, when the matters for all intents and purposes, have been fully resolved,” he said.
“In light of this, it would be incumbent on the Management to assure the people of PNG that we will not allow a few egoistic people to undermine the safety of our people by being recklessly negligent of their duties.
“The people of PNG expect more than this for the salaries they are paid. This was an Administrative Issue and I was satisfied that everything necessary had been done.
“There is a cause and an effect to every human decision.
“In this case, the leaders clearly have made that decision so now the Management has to deal with this serious case of in subordination and acts to undermine not only the safety and security of our transport system, but also endanger the lives of all the people using land, sea and air, transport,” he said.
The NWS was originally part of the Civil Aviation Authority Group.Following the regulatory and institutional reforms in early 2000, there gulatory functions and activities of commercial natures were separated and entities established to perform or provide those services.
This led to the creation of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA),PNG Air Services Ltd (PNGASL),Air Investigation Commission (AIC)and National Airports Corporation.

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