Power threat

EMPLOYEES of PNG Power Ltd downed tools on Saturday in protest over the proposed sale of 50 per cent of the company by the State.

More than 1000 company workers, who are members of the PNG Energy Workers Union, staged the stop-work and gave the company 24 hours to meet their demands, including:

Entitlements estimated to be about K8million ($F6.1m) outstanding from 2002 and 2003;

15 per cent ownership of the company. Public Enterprises and State Investments Minister Ben Micah had revealed the proposed 50 per cent sale of the company at the Investment and Infrastructure summit meeting in Port Moresby on Wednesday.

Union general secretary Santee Margis said: “The issues of selling PNG power is the decision of the government. The employees are simply saying if they want to sell PPL, pay them all their entitlements — plus a 15 per cent ownership to be given to them.”

It is understood PNG Power chief executive officer John Tangit had tried to convince the union members not to walk off their jobs.

He later issued a circular to them saying the company had not yet been sold, saying “the process will require the participation of the PPL board and management, and the Independent Public Business Corporation”.

“While it is no secret that the government is thinking of selling some of its equity in some State-owned enterprises, including PPL, no such actions have taken place,” he said.

“I urge all staff to have a sensible response to any external speculation and rumours and allow management time to address any issues raised and communicate matters to staff accordingly.”

The company late last month had admitted facing serious insolvency problems, with Bank South Pacific demanding an immediate payment of K10million ($F7.64m) (on Aug 21) to clear an overdraft. The State had to bail the company out.