The National, Tuesday 4th June 2013
By ELLEN TIAMU
RAMU Agri Industries Ltd’s (RAIL) palm oil mill at Gusap in Ramu, Madang, reopened last night after being closed for a week.
A strike by about 1,000 palm oil workers at the Gusap Estate over better pay forced the closure of the mill.
Speaking from Ramu yesterday, general manager Jamie Graham confirmed that 256 were sacked as a result of the strike and the company would be recruiting new people this week to take their place.
Graham said the Ramu Agri Industries National Employees Union (RAINEU) and the company were disappointed that such a large number of workers had to lose their jobs.
“I was disappointed as I went around to talk to them on Wednesday afternoon and pleaded with them to return to work, but they didn’t take the advice and are facing the consequences,” he said.
Graham said the recognition agreement and collective bargaining agreement, both registered with the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations, set out agreements between the company and workers through RAINEU but these were breached, resulting in terminations.
“The union did everything in its power to get people back and tried explaining that they were contravening procedures but they would not listen,” Graham said.
He said the union and company were already in the process of bringing forward the annual pay review but matters got out of hand.
Graham said it was too early to calculate how much effect the strike had had on the company’s palm oil operations.
About 4000 workers at RAIL’s three oil palm estates were affected by the stop-work and mill closure.
Operations were to begin yesterday afternoonand mill rolling last night.
A large number of workers in another section were also sacked by the company last year.