Union wants answers on lay-offs

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday November 6th, 2013


THE Papua New Guinea Maritime and Transport Workers’ Union (PNGMTWU) is seeking a proper dialogue with Steamships Trading Company over the removal of workers in their marine engineering services (MES) last Friday.

Union president Alex Rawali said the decision to cease operations of MES had affected more than 70 employees and their families and the workers were not given notice of the company’s intention. 

The workers were told the same day the MES was shut down.

“Over 70 employees, most of whom are loyal long-serving employees, have been thrown onto the streets by one of the biggest employers in the country with total disregard and lack of concern for the employee’s welfare,” he said.

“The union is dismayed at the sudden and brutal manner in which the board of directors of Steamships Trading Company has effected the closure of Marine Engineering Services. 

“The company has breached the Industrial Award which requires the company to give at least two weeks’ notice to the union and to employees of any imminent redundancy programme, including closure of the company.

“The union will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Steamships management to address these issues.”

Steamships Trading Company managing director Geoff Cundle said: “Marine Engineering Services has been an important business unit of Steamships for many years providing ship repair services to its customers. 

“Unfortunately, over recent years, despite the best efforts of management and staff, the Marine Engineering Service had been making significant losses. 

“The current economic slowdown in PNG is adding to these losses and it is with great regret that Steamships has decided to close MES with effect from Nov 1, 2013.

“All staff will be paid their full entitlements under the “maritime awards” and efforts will be made to assist in finding alternative employment.” 

Rawali said employees were only given K20 food vouchers and cash last Friday when they were removed from their workplace in the presence of armed G4S security guards.

“Steamships Trading Company has stated the closure of Marine Engineering Services is due to the slow-down in the economy and yet it has made record net profits over the past five years, amounting to millions of kina every year,” Rawali said.