Union members protest

Lae News, Normal

The National, Thursday 6th September, 2012

BUSINESSES ground to a standstill in Bulolo, Morobe, as 1,000 PNG Forest Products and National Forest Authority union members staged a protest march over log of claims yesterday.
Neither the union nor the companies were backing down, with the union saying its members would not return until negotiations took place.
The companies wanted the workers back and then negotiate.                      
The workers, union president Tukana Matagedec, general secretary Albert Kaklep and treasurer Robin Wauri, who had organised the protest, said the management had turned a blind eye to their claims.
The claims included increasing their pay and improving working conditions.
There were also safety issues at both the ply mill and the sawmill.                                   
The union members marched to the National Forest Authority office and demand the office be closed until their demands were met.
They later marched to the PNG Forest Products head office and spoke with the management team headed by general manager Ian Cobb.
The others were Ron Sneath and Kevin O’Connor.           
The ply mill and the sawmill will remain closed until the  demand is heard.
Union representatives said uncertified people were used to mix all forms of chemicals such as ACQ and CCA used for treatment of timbers.
ACQ contains 6.0 and CA contains 6.1 toxic rating.
“Both toxic chemicals are not registered under dangerous goods,” Kaklep said.
“Implications on the damage and safety measures were not being taught to the employees who used the chemicals for timber treatment.”
He said there was a lack of localisation and training programmes for national employees to take over from the expatriate managers.
Positions had not been advertised through the media either, he claimed.
He said workers were paid between K197 and K300 per fortnight.