Port Wings News Network:
The International Transport Workers’ Federation has welcomed a new union agreement that reinstates pay and conditions for workers at two union ports in Papua New Guinea, but concerns remain over the future of 213 workers still without a contract.
The PNG Maritime and Transport Workers’ Union (PNGMTWU) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Philippine port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) following months of local, worker-led protest and international pressure.
ITF president and chair of the ITF dockers’ section, Paddy Crumlin, cautiously welcomed the agreement and congratulated the union and its members, but he raised concerns over the future of the 213 workers still without a job offer at Port Moresby.
“This Memorandum of Agreement is a significant victory for workers who were looking down the barrel of a 50 per cent wage cut,” Mr Crumlin said.
“The ITF congratulates the PNGMTWU and its members for digging in and demanding the pay and conditions that PNG dockworkers have fought for over decades.
“However the ITF remains concerned that 213 workers are still without a contract after receiving termination notices from the former concession holder at Port Moresby. The transition of these jobs to the new Motukea terminal needs to be urgently addressed by ICTSI.”
The signing of this agreement shadows months of disruption, following the awarding of concession agreements to ICTSI for the operation of PNG’s two major ports in October last year, which had meant a cut in pay and inferior conditions for workers.
“The ITF and its affiliate PNGMTWU have drawn constant international attention to this dispute and forced ICTSI to guarantee pre-existing wage rates, industry conditions and protections after the company had cut wages back to the legal minimum,” Paddy Crumlin said.
“Trade unions across the world will now be watching to ensure that ICTSI honours all of its commitments in PNG, by protecting the jobs of existing dockworkers on decent pay and conditions.”
Mr Crumlin said it was important to note that the new agreement also recognises the PNGMTWU as representative of the workforce and provides a mechanism to resolve disputes.
“This sits in sharp contrast to ICTSI’s industrial relations practices elsewhere in the world. For this to be real progress ICTSI must extend this respect for workers’ across the entirety of the company’s global operations,” Mr Crumlin said.
“The ITF is prepared to work with ICTSI to progress the fundamental rights of all workers across its global network, to end the exploitation of its global workforce, recognise trade unions and stop undermining the wages, conditions and safety of its workforce.”