PNGTUC will not compromise independence

Letters, Normal

The Opposition’s recent flurry of attacks amuses me. 
I swore oath to promote, protect and uphold a democratic and independent trade union movement free of government, opposition, business or authoritarian control of any description. 
I believe I have done this throughout my incumbency and I intend to keep it that way.
Unions have a 300-year history behind them to know the folly of compromising the independence. 
Those penning missives to this column apparently lack the depth to appreciate this.
To assert we are pro-Government belies an entrenched desire by the Opposition for us to be pro-Opposition; it suggests a proclamation of friendship would have ensued had we underscored the Opposition’s challenge.
A dissenting view would have incurred the wrath of the opposite camp. 
This is a classic catch 22 position of “be damned if you do and be damned if you don’t”.
Meanwhile, the Opposition is completely at ease with elements of civil society that fan the flames of discontent against the Government. 
Apparently it is quite all right to have pro-Opposition activists and not vice-versa.
Such subliminal logic beguiles sanity and exposes a political deficit within the Opposition camp that appears acutely in need of being rescued from its own jaws.
We run the gauntlet of fairness. 
We have been around long enough to know the travesty of doing otherwise.
So here is what I would say to Opposition politicians and their cohorts – the business of government is everybody’s business. 
But the business of formation of government falls squarely on the door step of every politician.
Irrespective of what the PNGTUC or CSO may say, that vote on the floor of Parliament is ultimately the preserve of politicians. 
Bar revolutions and coup d’états, only parliamentarians in a democracy can either make or break a government. 
To heap blame on others outside Parliament for the failure to form government is a woeful reflection of lack of political clout.
Unions are not blind to corruption. 
We have been at the forefront of fighting corruption well before many CSOs and many of the current crop of politicians arrived on the scene. 
Our record attests to this. 
Regrettably, successive promises of change have not been delivered.
But here’s the thing, if you desire a change of government purely on the basis of corruption, then your own backyard must be as clean as a whistle. 
This must be the first test.
If this requirement is not met, then changing government should not even be contemplated.
We accept serious allegations of corruption have been raised against certain Government MPs. 
However, a quick glance at the Opposition aisle also reveals allegations of corruption have also been levelled against certain people. 
This gives rise to a critical question. 
Whose robes are we changing and with what?
For any Opposition to win the hearts and minds of the people in their bid to change government, they must do more that just cry wolf.


John Paska
General secretary
PNG Trade Union Congress