PNGTUC calls for fair treatment

The Trade Union Congress has declared the State of Emergency in the country as ‘discriminatory’ against workers, especially those in the private sector.

In a joint media conference today, Secretary General, Clemence Kanau and other union presidents, claimed that public sector workers are well looked after by the Government.

The Workers Union representatives met today to air their concerns about the ill treatment received by workers in the private sector.

Trade Union Congress Secretary General, Clemence Kanau said the government is being unfair to workers in the private sector.

The argument follows what’s being stipulated in SOE order number 5 by the SOE Controller, where it states that all Government employees shall continue to be paid during the National Emergency and shall resume normal duties when the SOE ends. This period shall not be deducted from his/her leave entitlements.

Mr Kanau said it is unfortunate that workers in the private sector are being neglected, when more than 10 thousand private sector workers are being laid off by companies and force to use their Superfund retirement savings.

“We cannot force the workers to use their retirement funds during this COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want the Government to be fair to all workers including private sector,” Mr Kanau said.

Furthermore, Mr Kanau said many private sector companies are facing closure due to COVID-19 impacts.

He said the TUC has been communicating with other Unions, to call on the government to assist private sector workers who have been laid off.

The TUC will soon be presenting its position on the matter to the Government, for deliberation.

Meantime, President of the PNG Nurses Association Frederick Kebai is also calling on the Government to uplift the State of Emergency in the country, and equip health workers around the country with medical kits and Personal Protective Equipment.

Kebai believes the SoE is not being coordinated well.

He says COVID-19 is a health issue and not a law and order issue, therefore they only need to fund the health sector, train nurses and health workers, to confidently manage COVID-19.

“The consequences of SOE and lockdown is very terrible at the moment and the private sector workers are mostly affected because they are not on the payroll.

“Government’s priority must be right by funding the health sectors across the country,” he said.

National Airline Employers Association, Samson Nul also raised concerns that the Government has neglected the State owned Enterprises workers, especially Air Niugini workers.

He said State owned enterprises generate large sum of money into the Government coffers and must be compensated fairly.

The Union representatives met today include, Police Workers Union, PNG Nurses Association, National Airline Employers Association, Superfund board representative, Bankers Union,Public Employees Association and PNG Maritime Workers Association.

Freddy Mou