Ok Tedi workers continue strike action

National, Normal

BAD weather last Thursday disrupted the open air meeting between striking Ok Tedi mine workers and the Industrial Registrar to formalise a draft memorandum of agreement (MoA) to end their week-long strike.
The MoA was drafted following dialogues between the Ok Tedi Mining and Allied Workers Union and the Ok Tedi Mining Limited management.
Heavy rains forced a cancellation of the meeting which had not been held since.
Although the Industrial Registrar and union leaders had urged the workers to return to work, they were adamant that the strike would continue until the “unfair” distribution of the shares in success scheme (SISS) funds were addressed. SISS is a special fund set up to provide incentive to retain and attract employees until the mine closure.
The strike by the 1,600 union members was peaceful and orderly and, despite the tense situation, businesses within and around the mine site at Tabubil and Kiunga, Western province, operated normally.
The OTML management said in a media statement that the SISS fund was a legal document that was administered by an independent trustee with strict guidelines and trust rules regarding distribution.
Furthermore, the trust rules stated that any changes to the distribution would require the majority approval of the disaffected employees, which OTML management could not arbitrarily or legally change the distribution.
Meanwhile, a continued industrial action would pose greater economic losses for the company, its contractors and stakeholders.