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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 20) – Many companies are forcing Papua New Guineans to work in bad conditions with pay packets insufficient to sustain employees over two weeks.

[PIR editor’s note: One example of this comes from a February PIR article highlighting conditions at the Ramu nickel mine camp in the Morobe Province.]

Many Papua New Guineans are still paid the minimum wage of PGK74 [US$25] a fortnight (14 days) or just a "few kina" above the minimum wage level, according to Labour and Industrial Relations Secretary David Tibu.

Mr Tibu claimed there were also no proper training programs established to help Papua New Guineans move up the ladder to occupy senior positions in the companies.

And with the review of different regulations governing the department, it is seeking to ensure laws are amended to assist working Papua New Guineans, Mr Tibu said.

He told a press conference in Port Moresby, while many companies included an attractive training program for Papua New Guineans when submitting work permit applications, many of these work programs were ignored once work permits were issued.

"Every work permit must be accompanied by a three-year training program and failing to do that the application will be knocked back," Mr Tibu said.

"Training of Papua New Guineans will be given priority when work permit applications are being made.

"We are going through our review and once that is approved, our staff will be closely monitoring the training programs outlined by each company in their applications.

"It should be the responsibility of every employer to train its workforce."

He said Papua New Guinea faced severe shortage of skilled labour and by giving priority to training, it would assist in reducing the shortage.

He said although the department lacked resources such as manpower, they would ensure all laws governing the employment of Papua New Guineans would be upheld at all times.

Mr Tibu also called on all chambers representing employers to submit names of companies which had difficulties obtaining work permits as the department could not identify which companies had problems when organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chamber of Mines and Petroleum and the Manufacturers’ Council of Papua New Guinea complained in the media on behalf of these companies.

He said there were procedures in place and every foreigner trying to obtain a work permit in PNG must be screened properly.

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