PNG dockworkers still out in the cold at the Port of Lae

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is still seeking assurances for local jobs at the Port of Lae in Papua New Guinea (PNG) despite a new agreement between International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) and local landowners.

ICTSI announced in recent days that it would “establish a collaborative framework” with local landowners but failed to mention any agreement with local PNG workers, many of whom have been working at the port for several years.

Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and chair of the ITF dockers section, said: “The ITF still has serious concerns regarding the future of the current workforce, as there have been no assurances made about their ongoing employment.

“This is a step in the right direction, no doubt in part due to pressure from local unions and the ITF, but until local workers have been guaranteed jobs in the port we remain sceptical at best given ICTSI’s recent history.

“ITCSI needs to put the fears to rest of local workers and their families who are justifiably worried about their future."

More than 1,000 jobs are in jeopardy after the PNG government awarded 25-year contracts for the country’s two main international ports to ICTSI. The Philippine-owned company has attracted international condemnation over emerging patterns of labour violations in their network, poor safety standards, and sloppy management practices.

Reg McAlister, general secretary of the PNG Maritime and Transport Workers Union said: “ICTSI have indicated they will source their workforce from local communities – but the union has seen no firm guarantee to secure all existing jobs and conditions.

“If the government and ICTSI are prepared to sit down with the union and the ITF, and provide guarantees of jobs and award conditions of employment for the existing workforce, a return to good industrial relations in the stevedoring industry is possible.”

The ITF, and our unions, are committed to supporting port operators who provide good jobs and industrial relations practices in their ports.

For more information contact
Luke Menzies, ITF Asia Pacific | | +61 433 889 844