12 Mar 2008

PNG's Ok Tedi as standstill over pay dispute

5:16 pm on 12 March 2008

Disgruntled workers at the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea have walked off the job indefinitely after they were denied pay rises while engineers got 100 percent increases.

The company paid the engineers more to ensure they did not head overseas.

But the Ok Tedi Allied Workers Union said hundreds of workers are unhappy that the company did not give all workers more.

The union's general secretary, Jackson Pinen, says with the prices of gold and copper on world markets, the company can afford it.

He says the mine's operations have ground to a halt.

"The whole mine operation is completely out, the whole mill operations is completely out. And everybody is out of their offices, out of their trucks, out of their machines - nobody is at work."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Ok Tedi says the strike is illegal.

The strike is being blamed for a spike in world copper prices.