The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) has thrown its full support behind the campaign against privatising public assets and services in Papua New Guinea.
Three trade unions – the Energy Workers Union, Maritime and Transport Workers Union and National Airline Employees Association – have formed a coalition to keep some of the country’s biggest companies, including PNG Power, PNG Ports and Air Nuigini, in public hands.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin warned against the privatising of state assets, particularly if it was to the detriment of local employment.
“PNG Government-owned companies have provided stable, long-term employment with good conditions for many years,” Crumlin said.
“It would be unacceptable if those jobs and conditions were undermined during a change in ownership.
“Workers should be the first and foremost consideration, not an afterthought.”
Shannon O’Keeffe, campaigns director from the ITF office in Sydney flew to Port Moresby to attend the joint union meeting.
“The ITF is concerned because the workers’ entitlements at PNG Power have not been guaranteed,” O’Keeffe said.
“That’s always an issue when there is any sale of a business. We saw the urgency of coming to PNG and committing publicly to supporting the work of the PNG unions with an internationally co-ordinated campaign to ensure that the company and the government honour their commitment to these workers.
“The PNG Power workers have entitlements owed to them going back as far as 2002 and 2003 so they should be concerned about the entitlements they are already owed let alone what might happen if there is a sale.”
“The ITF supports the Good Jobs Coalition and will mobilise affiliates in Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world in solidarity to ensure that the PNG government honours their collective agreement obligations and guarantees the wages, conditions and benefits of the hard-working workforce at PNG Power and any other government-owned asset that they intend to privatise.”