Ok Tedi strike enters fifth day

National, Normal

THE strike action by mine and mill operations employees at the Ok Tedi mine in Tabubil, Western province, continued yesterday as the developer and the workers union met with the Industrial Registrar to try and resolve the issue.
The industrial action by the aggrieved employees entered its fifth day yesterday, commencing last Friday.
Sources from the mining township last night said while the strike was still on, other OTML employees were at work.
The action also did not affect contractors engaged by the developer.
The situation around town was also quiet.
Sources said the OTML management and the workers union met late yesterday and the outcome of their meeting would be made known today.
There is still no official confirmation on the real reasons behind the industrial action, however, indications were that the striking workers had queried their retention bonuses and wanted their share to be paid.
“Nobody knows what is happening because the striking workers and the union still have to present their log of claims to the OTML management.
“Right now, we are all in the dark and we will have to wait until tomorrow (today) to know the real reasons and latest developments,” the sources said.
Landowners also have not taken sides and have remained neutral.
Meanwhile, in a media statement last Friday, OTML managing director Alan Breen warned that the industrial action was outside of the company’s grievance and disputes procedures contained in the Industrial Agreement.
He also rapped PNG Trade Union Congress general secretary John Paska over the issue of bonuses, stating that Mr Paska was misinformed.
“OTML bonuses are distributed fairly across the workforce,” Mr Breen said.
“OTML employees are among the highest paid in the country and receive substantially more benefits than in other companies.”
He said as well as free electricity, housing, discounted travel and a substantial allowance towards the education of their children, award employees were recently each paid a K17,000 retention bonus out of a pool of K28 million.
“With wages, bonuses and benefits combined, the lowest paid award employee earned in excess of K50,000 annually with the majority earning substantially more than that,” Mr Breen said.
The Department of Labour and Industrial Relations had earlier on advised that the strike action was illegal and that striking employees should return to work.
The National could not talk to the Industrial Registrar yesterday as she was reportedly in Tabubil to meet with the OTML management and workers union executives.
Mr Breen said he was hopeful that employees would reconsider their action and return to work so normal mining operations could resume.