17 Jan 2003

PNG minister calls on unions to be responsible

4:34 pm on 17 January 2003

Papua New Guinea's labour and industrial relations minster, Peter O'Neill, has called on the trade union movement to be more responsible in its appraoch to industrial action.

Mr O'Neill says he is willing to meet union leaders, but says a major strike as threatened by the Public Sector Unions would cost the government and economy millions of dollars.

Mr O'Neill has told the National newspaper that neither the economy nor the community could afford the strike action.

He says no matter what the union grievances are, widespread action by workers cannot be justified or tolerated.

The PNG Trade Unions Congress, which represents private sector workers, says it will not support the strike, as all avenues have not been exhausted.

The Congress general secretary, John Paska, says the submission to the government on labour policy lacks competence and substance.

Mr Paska says the congress is sympathetic to their cause and is giving moral support, however it is not willing to look like a fool in front of a government with a submission which looks like a shopping list.