The National, Wednesday, May 25, 2011
By ISAAC NICHOLAS
The PNG Trade Union Congress has called for renewed negotiations on the seasonal workers scheme to increase the quota to allow more Papua New Guineans to work in Australia.
Congress president Michael Malabag said the union was happy with the scheme.
“This has been an issue of prominence that has been addressed by the unions at its regional meetings both in PNG and overseas,” he said.
Malabag said the seasonal workers scheme was not a new issue.
“But we are stressing the need for renewed negotiations for the increase in quota for PNG seasonal workers and for a clear blue-print that addresses workers rights while in Australia,” Malabag said.
He said the congress had asked its sister union, the Australian Workers Union, to keep a close tab on the PNG workers in Australia under the seasonal working scheme.
“PNGTUC will also closely monitor the seasonal workers scheme through our TUC counterparts in Australia.
“We want the government to adopt a pro-active approach role through international and regional cooperation forums like the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting and Pacific Island Trade Agreements.
“While we are happy with the scheme, it should not distract PNG’s focus in providing employment for its own citizens on its own shores.”
Malabag said the seasonal scheme was a litmus test for any government “as employment remains a paramount challenge”.
He said the trade union would be too happy in working with the government to find ways of creating opportunities for increased employment.
“Employment creation should go hand in hand with skills development,” Malabag said.
He said PNG now was being invaded by foreign workers because the country lacked skills.
He urged the government to seriously address this issue and for renewed negotiations for seasonal workers.