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Papua New Guinea: Ok Tedi Mining terminates 191 employees following protest to request better work conditions & benefits

One hundred and ninety-one Ok Tedi Mining employees were terminated as employees of the company following an 'illegal' protest at the mine site to demand better work conditions and benefits. 

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Ok Tedi Mining to respond to concerns raised about the labour rights of the company's workers following the mass termination - its response is linked below. Related media reports are also linked below. 

A group of sacked Ok Tedi employees arriving at Jackson in Port Moresby

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Company response
19 March 2018

Ok Tedi Mining's company response

Author: Ok Tedi Mining

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Ok Tedi Mining to respond to concerns raised about the labour rights of the company's workers following termination of 191 employees in response to a protest for better work conditions and benefits.

The company responded:

"Ninety-three workers were terminated for refusal to go to work, not 191 as reported in the newspaper.

As workers were to board buses to work at start of shift, some employees refused to go to work. Senior national management were called and spoke with the protestors over a period of 3 hours, advising them to go to work and to work through the grievance procedure or risk termination. Members of the union executive attended and talked with workers advising them to go to work and follow the grievance procedure or risk termination.

53 workers refused to go to work until their demands were met. Additional buses were held for 3 hours for anyone who changed their mind. For those who did not go to work, termination letters were issued later in the day.

This process repeated for start of night shift and 40 employees decided not to attend work, again after hearing advice from management and the union.

The incoming panel who flew in the following day were advised by management of the situation and all went to work. 

Striking workers were repatriated to their home towns the following day after being allowed to collect their company provided tool kits – almost all were workshop tradesmen.

Management has met with the union executive since this incident and commitment renewed by both to follow process and continue to address issues openly and timely. The appropriate PNG labour authority was advised of the incident.

For context on employment conditions over past 3 years: the Company paid one third of wages to help all employees and families during the 8 month period 2015/16 when the Mine was temporarily closed due to dry weather/unable to operate; paid a 10% wage increase on restart after dry weather associated with a new FIFO roster; paid 2% wage increase and 7.5% bonus at end 2016 after 9 months work; paid a 25% increase in housing allowance mid - 2017, a 2% wage increase and 12% bonus at end 2017.

Ok Tedi is currently recovering from a 7.5 magnitude earthquake which shut down operations a week ago, damaging roads and pipelines. No one was injured."

Article
6 March 2018

Minister will not intervene in OTML sacking

Author: Charmaine Poriambep, Loop

26 February 2018

Despite calls from the North Fly MP to investigate the sacking of more than 100 Ok Tedi Mining Limited employees, Mining Minister Johnson Tuke says he will not intervene with administrative issues.

He said the sacking of these workers is a management issue.

“I understand that it is grievances displayed by employees. They have a channel to go through,” stated Tuke...

North Fly MP, James Donald, recently called on Tuke to immediately intervene and direct investigations into the sacking of a group of Ok Tedi Mine employees in Western Province...

Read the full post here

Article
5 March 2018

MP calls for probe in OTML staff sacking

Author: Freddy Mou, Loop

23 February 2018

North Fly MP, James Donald has called on the Minister for Mining, Johnson Tuke, to immediately intervene and direct investigations into the sacking of a group of Ok Tedi Mine employees in Western Province.

Donald said the Mining Minister must ensure an investigation is conducted to determine whether the termination of 100-plus workers by OTML was proper and lawful...

Donald said sacking of employees in that manner and is such big number was concerning...

 

Read the full post here

Article
26 February 2018

Mine workers advised they were sacked because of 'illegal stop work'

Author: The National

22 February 2018

THE workers of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd…were advised in their termination letters that they had taken part in an “illegal stop work”. A copy of the letter…read: “This letter is to inform you that you had participated in an illegal stop work and was absent from duties on Tuesday 20th of February 2018.

“As stipulated in our Terms and Conditions of your employment ‘employees resorting to withdrawing their labour or restricting other employees from working will have their employment terminated’.

“There will be no recourse to appeal. The company is therefore terminating your services effective immediately and you will be advised of your repatriation arrangements.”...

Read the full post here

Article
25 February 2018

Mine group sacked

Author: Shirley Mauludu, The National

22 February 2018

THE Ok Tedi Mining Ltd has sacked a group of employees who were staging a protest at the mine site…telling them in a letter that their action was “illegal”.

…Employees…claimed there were 191 of them who were issued termination letters… were told to leave the site on a charter flight….

Henry Kuso, a spokesman for those who arrived at Jackson Airport….

Ok Tedi managing director Peter Graham…confirmed…that the protest had not affected the company operations.

“The industrial action was illegal since it did not follow the grievance process and was not supported by the union,” he said.

The protest was to follow up on their demand to:

  • Change to current the 2/1 (two weeks on, one week off) roster for shift workers;
  • Change their current contract; and
  • Renegotiate the industrial agreement.

Kuso said the company had promised when it resumed operation in March 2016 following the drought in 2015 that it would review some of their work conditions and benefits.

“It has been two years since the resumption following the drought. Some of the things the company promised to do, it failed to honour...”

Read the full post here