PAPUA NEW GUINEA PRISON WARDENS STOP WORK

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By Oseah Philemon

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (October 14, 1998 - Post-Courier)--- Jails throughout Papua New Guinea will be unmanned for four hours starting at eight this morning when wardens hold stop work meetings to push for 100 percent pay increase and better working conditions.

This is in response to a statement by their Minister, Thomas Pelika, which claimed discipline has dropped in the Correctional Institution Services to a point where there is little or no command and control.

"Discipline to my surprise has dropped to a point where it is now becoming too costly, where it is almost impossible to sense and even see command and control existing in the correctional service,'' Mr. Pelika told a jail administrators conference in Port Moresby.

He said some commanders were taking relaxed attitudes towards their duties and responsibilities.

Mr. Pelika claimed reports from jail commanders of jail breaks reflected a downward trend in the professional conduct of men given the mandate to command, control and effectively administer prisons.

The statement drew an angry response from the executive of the Correctional Services Employees Association of PNG.

In a statement yesterday, the union executive accused the Government of not doing enough for jails. It said Mr. Pelika "should know better than to talk about discipline in jails when it is in fact the Government which is to blame for this."

"The national Government has not attended to problems within correctional institutions for a very long time. It expects the correctional service to deliver the services but it is not prepared to put its money where its mouth is.''

The union called on its members to hold stop work meetings starting at 8:00 a.m. today to discuss their employment conditions, which it described as "deplorable and incapable of sustaining decent living standards for families.''

The executive wants to gauge the views of members on a new log of claims which include a 100 percent pay rise, meal allowances, increase in risk allowance, better accommodation, improved administration of promotions and training and retrenchment.

These are in addition to long standing claims for overtime, shift allowances and airfares.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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