No clear evidence of PNG strike
It's doubtful that workers in Papua New Guinea have observed a call to strike made by a civil society group.
It's doubtful that workers in Papua New Guinea have observed a call to strike made by a civil society group trying to pressure the Prime Minister into stepping down.
The group demanded Peter O'Neill resign by midnight on Tuesday to face fraud allegations, and it encouraged all workers to strike peacefully if he did not.
Mr O'Neill did not step down and so far there's little evidence of any strike.
Ben Robinson Drawbridge has more.
It was business as usual by mid afternoon on Wednesday in Port Moresby, according to RNZ International sources in the PNG capital. The civil society group issued its ultimatum on Sunday and the PNG Government moved swiftly to suggest defence forces would be mobilised if strike action disrupted essential services. The group's spokesperson, the constitutional lawyer Moses Murray, says it had no intention of creating civil disorder or affecting utilities.
MOSES MURRAY: I would not allow the word general strike. It is a general expression of freedom and the freedom is to decide, do I go to work, or do I not go to work. It's not militant in nature, never. This is the first time that we are doing it this way, it's unprecedented. As I speak to you it's happening in the three city centres. People are just not going to work, they're staying home. The point of the exercise is that people must exercise their free choice. Do we go to work and continue to keep the machinery going for this one tyrant? Or do we stop?
The airline pilot, James Mapok is also a member of the group, as well as what he describes as the fraternity of professional pilots. Mr Mapok says several industries have been affected by the strike including aviation.
JAMES MAPOK: I believe the waterside workers they have withdrawn their service, so there is very limited service at the ports in terms of loading and unloading of containers. There is also very little movement in terms of public transport, that involves buses and taxis. I believe some of the banks have closed their offices, that involves Westpac. So the citizens have basically woken up to the fact that we actually have rule of law in this country and that everybody subscribes to the rule of law, be you the Prime Minister or be you the janitor.
Westpac bank in Papua New Guinea says none of its services have been disrupted as does the state owned airline Air Niugini. PNG Ports Corporation could not be reached for comment, and RNZ International correspondents say public transport seems to be operating normally. However, the country's health service could soon be in disarray, if medical workers' unions make good on their threat to walk off the job. The General Secretary of the Doctor's Association, Sam Yockopua, says after a 30 percent cut to the national health budget, doctors and nurses will strike from next week unless the Prime Minister falls on his sword.
SAM YOCKOPUA: Now we've got the general workforce trying to rescue this country, and we knew that the Government would come up with tactics to suppress that freedom. The freedom of movement and the freedom of speech. We the professionals of the health sector, we are not afraid of intimidation and threats. One of the back-up plans includes en masse resignation. No body can stop us from resigning en masse.
Sam Yockopua says industrial action is the only tool health workers have left to force much needed investment in PNG's ailing health sector.
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