The National, Monday 3rd June 2013
By ELLEN TIAMU
THE Ramu Agri National Employees Union says the sacking of 260 workers last week was due to their refusal to return to work after the company advised them to.
The union described the protest at the Ramu Agri Industries Ltd (RAIL) Gusap Oil Palm Estate in Madang that brought the oil palm mill to a standstill as illegal.
About 1,000 oil palm workers held a week-long protest at New Britain Palm Oil’s subsidiary company at Ramu from last Monday.
Gusap is one of three oil palm estates there. Workers at Surinam and Dumpu were also affected.
Union president Jeffrey Gundi said workers presented a petition to the company management two weeks ago seeking a pay review among other things.
“The management asked that the petition be endorsed by the union before it was returned to them.”
Gundi said that was done and he had also requested that the company pay review, normally done in June, be brought forward to May.
He was arranging for the workers’ representatives to meet with management last Monday when the strike began.
“At the same time, I got a call that there was a stop-work at Gusap and that was without my knowledge or that of union executives.”
Gundi told the striking workers that he had already received a reply to the petition and asked them to return to work.
Upon request from the group, Graham met with them last Wednesday afternoon and urged them to return to work while their representatives met with the management to sort out pending issues.
When workers still refused to return to work last Thursday, the 260 out of the 1000-strong workforce at Gusap were sacked.