Oil palm workers riot

National, Normal

DISGRUNTLED employees of oil palm company CTP Poliamba in New Ireland province allegedly rioted on Monday, damaging company assets valued at K57,000.
Provincial police commander Chief Supt Ephraim ToMonmon said police were deployed to the company site and arrested 16 suspects, all from Goroka and Banz area.
He said the workers allegedly did not agree with the company’s working conditions and smashed five company vehicles and damaged office windows and properties.
The 16 suspects were all charged with causing wilful and malicious damage to properties and are in custody at the Kavieng police station.
A reliable source from Kavieng said the oil palm company had been finding it difficult to employ locals in Kavieng who refused to work at the plantation, and, two months ago, it began venturing out, especially into the Highlands area, to recruit workers.
The company allegedly began recruiting at Ramu, then to Goroka and Banz.
The source said company representatives engaged in recruiting from outside New Ireland allegedly gave prospective employees misleading information that they (company) would provide good housing conditions and a mess where the workers could eat.
The source claimed that housing conditions for employees at the plantation were very poor and some workers had realised this and managed to pay their own fare to travel back home.