PNG protests to continue if PM survives vote
A civil society group in Papua New Guinea says it's encouraging workers to continue their civil disobedience until the Prime Minister steps down.
A civil society group in Papua New Guinea says it's encouraging airline, maritime, energy and health workers to continue their civil disobedience until the Prime Minister steps down, or is removed from office.
Trade unions in PNG, however, say they are not supporting industrial action, while some say they've advised their members not to take part in the protest.
Ben Robinson Drawbridge reports.
The civil society group leader, Moses Murray, says disruption to air travel in PNG has continued this week, as pilots chose not to go to work.
MOSES MURRAY: It's an airline fraternity, so there are some pilots from different aircraft companies here, also in the exercise of their conscience not to take to work. As I've said and I continue to maintain it's the exercise of ones conscience, and it's all leading to the fact that the current Prime Minister must go, whatever way he has to go, he has to go.
The state-owned airline, Air Niugini, says its flights are returning to normal after dialogue with the Pilots Union.
But the General Secretary of the National Airline Employees Association, Emmanuel Pilai says his members are not involved.
EMMANUEL PILAI: My members are porters, cargo officers, traffic officers and those that administer the entire Air Niugini administration. I know for sure that my members are not part and parcel of that so called strike.
Moses Murray says PNG port workers are working slowly as a form of protest, which has caused a backlog of ships in Port Moresby harbour.
But the General Secretary of PNG's Maritime Trade Workers Union, Reg McAlister says there is no backlog and no go-slow.
REG MCALISTER: Well we've asked all our branches to continue work as normal. All our branches are not participating in any strike action and there's no other form of action including a go slow."
Moses Murray says workers from the electricity provider PNG Power have also chosen to stop work, but the company says it's not participating in strike action.
However, the General Secretary of the Energy Workers Association, Santee Margies says electricity workers are protesting.
SANTEE MARGIES: Yes, there are a few who have decided to go along that line, but it's not endorsed by the union, but they are supporting the students of Papua New Guinea and the public call that the Prime Minister must step aside.
The PNG Trades Union Congress says it does not support strike action and has also slammed today's planned Parliamentary vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister as baseless and unjustified.
Moses Murray says not involving the unions has been a deliberate tactic.
MOSES MURRAY: We've taken onboard the view that unions shouldn't go out as unions, but they should go out as individuals in that union and individuals exercise one's conscience. If he or she wants to go to work he goes to work, if he or she doesn't, he doesn't go to work. So people are free.
The Doctor's Association, however, continues to support Mr Murray's group.
It's General Secretary, Sam Yockopua, says a Government taskforce set up to clamp down on civil unrest has cowed PNG unions into not speaking out.
SAM YOCKUPUA: They wish they could but they have been suppressed and they have been intimidated. The good thing is that the National Doctors Association has a very solid foundation. 550 members nation wide we stand as a unit, a single unit. So members of the Association have chosen not to turn up for work, or either to turn up for work but to become unproductive. That is called civil disobedience and it is their inherent constitutional right, and it is their democratic right to do so.
Sam Yockupua says whether or not the Prime Minister survives the vote of no confidence, doctors will strike from August the 4th unless the government reverses a 30 percent cut to the health budget.
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