OTML to address grievances

National, Normal

FOUR other major issues, besides the perceived unfair distribution of the shares in success scheme (SISS) funds, will be addressed by the Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTML) management under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that ended a 16-day strike by 1,500 workers.
The strike is estimated to have cost OTML K100 million in production loss.
The MoU was signed between OTML, the Government and the Mining and Allied Workers Union last Friday.
The major issues were the settlement of the home ownership scheme, end of mine life fund, mine closure packages and early retirement and redundancy tax concerns, which Mining Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu was pleased to note in the MoU.
Safe and normal operations resumed with workers returning to work last Saturday.
The housing scheme is for mine workers to build their own homes using funds from the company.
Both the workers and management are yet to agree on any fixed amount to be paid.
On the early retirement and redundancy tax consideration, OTML and the workforce were seeking a favourable tax consideration from the Government on their retirement and redundancy packages.
Sir Puka yesterday commended all the parties involved, especially the OTML management and the workforce, for reaching a definite “win-win” situation through the execution of the MoU.
“You can all be proud that you managed what was a delicate situation and yet arrived at a compromise.
“This is definitely a win-win situation for the parties, including the host community.
“Not a single shot was fired, not a single employee was terminated and not a single person or property was damaged or destroyed during the strike,” Sir Puka said.
The MoU stipulated that all issues must be resolved by Aug 1, after which all parties will appoint an independent arbitrator whose decisions will be binding on them.
It also required that the parties meet fortnightly and be guided and chaired by the Government to address commitments stipulated in the MoU.
It was proposed that the matter of the SISS be dealt with through the appointment of an employee representative to be a director of the trustee of the SISS, in addition to the inclusion of an independent director.
Currently, the two trustees are OTML management.
Since the unfair distribution of the SISS was the cause of the strike, the union has engaged a law firm to take up the matter with the courts for interpretation on its fairness.
Sir Puka commended all the workers for the peaceful manner of the strike and acknowledged the efforts of the Industrial Registrar in the first week of the strike.
He also commended the State team for putting together the MoU which captured the issues of contention and the mediation process.
The Tabubil residents, surrounding communities and police were also acknowledged for assisting in maintaining peace and order.
Despite all these, Sir Puka was disappointed that the media continued to carry wrong information, such as the nightly news on EMTV last Friday, claiming that police had intimidated and threatened the workforce.