21 Dec 2004

Telikom PNG sale dispute claims minister's job

4:26 pm on 21 December 2004

Papua new Guinea Prime Minister sir Michael Somare has averted a major industrial dispute that would have crippled the country's communication service.

Sir Michael has met demands of the National Communications Workers Union by sacking the State Enterprises and Information Minister Dr Puka Temu and reinstating the sacked Telikom board.

The country was set to experience massive disruptions over Christmas after telecommunication workers walked off the job in protest at the sacking of the Telikom board.

Dr Temu had sacked the board for opposing the proposed partial sale of Telikom to the Econet-Altech consortium which has now been shelved.

But after the minister failed to act on the Prime Minister's instruction to reinstate the board, Sir Michael stripped Dr Temu of his ministerial powers.

Sir Michael assumed Dr Temu's portfolio and instantly revoked the tenure of the interim Telikom board appointed by the former minister early this month and reinstated the former board headed by Dr Florian Gubon.

He also reinstated sacked acting Telikom managing director Martin Veisame.

The Union has welcomed Sir Michael's decision, saying he has saved the country from a chaotic Christmas.