22 Aug 2005

PNG government power workers ordered into mediation in dispute

9:02 pm on 22 August 2005

Government electricity workers in Papua New Guinea have been ordered into mediation talks in an attempt to avert strike action.

80-percent of the workers at PNG Power Corporation belong to the PNG Energy Workers Association, and a union spokesman says they are unhappy with management decisions to hire foreign staff at the government owned corporation.

The union had threatened strike action last week, but spokesman, Philip Kaira, says the Industrial Registrar has ordered them and the company management to meet with a mediator.

Mr Kaira says the union wants to have those talks by Wednesday or they will take unspecified action.

"It depends on how the issues are debated on the table as in any wrestling exercise when the union either accepts the government's position or we can dispute it and then go and ask for a ballot. THat's where the real unrest will come, at the compulsory conference when the third party comes in."

Philip Kaira.