15 May 2002

Port strike in PNG spreads

5:40 pm on 15 May 2002

The strike by waterside workers in Papua New Guinea has spread to other ports posing a serious threat to businesses nationwide.

The PNG Maritime Workers' Industrial Union members who walked off their jobs in Port Moresby and Lae over the weekend, have been joined by their colleagues this week.

Union representative, Reg McAlister, says they're waiting to hear from their lawyer as to whether there will be a court order asking them to return to work.

Mr McAlister says the employers federation has not budged in negotiations.

"Employers are not prepared to offer more than 5% wage increase for a 12 month agreement, and original claims, we sought a 40% wage increase, over 2 years, and we came down to 10% over 12 months, and yet, the last meeting we had with the employers federation, they still refused to increase their wage offer to 5%."

Workers at the ports of Alotau, Madang, Wewak and Rabaul have all walked off their jobs in support of the Union members.

In Port Moresby's Fairfax Harbour there are currently four vessels anchored and sitting idle.

The strike is now in its fifth day.