The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has raised concerns over the fate of dockworkers at the Port of Lae in Papua New Guinea (PNG) despite a new agreement between International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI) and local landowners.
The union is seeking assurances that the workers will be able to keep their jobs.
ICTSI said on Monday, November 27 that it had signed an agreement with impacted community landowner groups in Lae in PNG Guinea through the ICTSI Foundation and ICTSI subsidiary South Pacific International Container Terminal, Limited (SPICTL) as a necessary first step towards moving the joint ICTSI-community project in Lae. The signing follows ICTSI’s securing of 25-year concessions to operate Lae and Motukea.
“We are committed to developing the new Lae terminal into a world-class facility and the best in South Pacific. We will not only be investing in ship-to-shore gantry cranes and the highest levels of information technology but, most importantly, into training and human capital,” Christian R. Gonzalez, ICTSI Senior Vice President and head of Asia Pacific, said commenting on the deal.
“The ITF still has serious concerns regarding the future of the current workforce, as there have been no assurances made about their ongoing employment,” Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and chair of the ITF dockers section, said.
“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.”
As informed, 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.
“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,” Reg McAlister, general secretary of the PNG Maritime and Transport Workers Union said.
The ITF has been urging the Government of Papua New Guinea to review the decision to award port operations in Lae and Port Moresby to ICTSI due to the company’s “poor record on safety and labour relations.”