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PORT MORESBY, PNG (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 11) – Electricity nationwide could be switched off if the Government confirms the appointment of an expatriate as the new PNG Power chief executive officer.

Angry PNG Power workers yesterday agreed to put their superiors on notice of imminent industrial action if the appointment of an Australian as the new CEO was approved.

Coming two weeks after telecommunication services in Port Moresby were disrupted by striking Telikom PNG workers and the vandalism of telephone cables, secretary-general of the 1100-strong PNG Energy Workers Association Philip Kaira said pulling the plug on power supply nationwide would be the last resort.

"If the Labour Department allows the work permit to go through, then the actual disruption of services will come through and that next level is strike action. Power is an essential service to the public as well as to businesses; we don’t want to put (them) into the same situation like Telikom did to victimise the business houses and the public, we don’t want to go through that," Mr Kaira said.

The union is demanding that the PNG Power CEO position remained localised, current acting CEO Lawrence Solomon be confirmed to the position, and board chairman and Employers Federation president John Jeffrey be removed and the services of consultancy firm Kordamanta Consultants be terminated.

They alleged that Mr Jeffrey and the consultancy firm were pushing for the appointment of the expatriate as CEO.

Mr Jeffrey could not be reached for comment yesterday but a letter he wrote to the union dated June 27 warned that the board would not be blackmailed.

"You can be rest assured that while I am chairman of this board, it will not submit to blackmail on any issue and from any source. We are charged with making decisions solely in the best interest of the company which includes the shareholder, the employees, the customers and the community at large," Mr Jeffrey stated in his letter.

Reiterating that it was a Government policy decision that the PNG Power CEO position remained localised, Mr Kaira said the Government should explicitly state its reasons if it intended to change the policy.

Friday, August 12, 2005

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