Wednesday, November 1, 2017

PNG Government Embassies Face Union Protests over ICTSI Appointment

Award of 25 Year Contract to Run Ports Causes Concern
Shipping News Feature
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – The appointment of Philippine port operator, International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), to operate the Papua New Guinea (PNG) ports of Lae and Motukea on a 25-year contract has caused protests to be held outside of the PNG Consulate in Sydney, Australia, and High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand by members of international unions. The unions are concerned by the reputation of ICTSI and hope to force the Government of Papua New Guinea to review the decision to award port operations to the company.

Amongst those who are calling for a review of the decision, Paddy Crumlin, President of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, said:

“The ITF, alongside the Maritime International Federation, is calling on the Minister of Transport, Hon. Wesley Nukundj, to intervene and urgently convene a meeting of stakeholders – including union and landowner representatives – to find a solution to the current crisis.”

The unions state that they are concerned over what it alleges are ICTSI’s emerging patterns of labour violations in their network, poor safety standards, insufficient managerial oversight to ensure productive industrial relations, and compliance with local laws and international labour conventions, evidenced in a report the ITF released in October.

The Papua New Guinea Maritime and Transport Workers Union, an affiliate of the ITF, says that more than 1,000 jobs will be lost at the ports and in associated industries due to the contracts awarded to ICTSI. Crumlin added:

“The number of family and community members who rely on those jobs numbers is in the thousands. We believe ICTSI intends to replace workers with a mixture of casual, outsourced labour and Filipino workers under the guise of mentors. This is nothing short of a disgrace.”

Joe Fleetwood, General Secretary of the Maritime Union of New Zealand, also called on the Government of PNG to act:

“The PNG government must put its workers’ interests first, and protect the jobs of its people. We stand ready to continue our support for the PNG workers and landowners in their just fight.”

ICTSI were contacted by the Handy Shipping Guide for the right to reply, but had not commented at the time of publication.