WEWAK, PNG TUNA CANNERY FIRES 313 WOMEN WORKERS

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By Gabriel Fito

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 29) - More than 300 women employed by the South Seas Tuna Company [SSTC] in Wewak were sacked by the company this week. The 313 women, all locals from nearby areas, worked at the company’s loining plant in Wewak.

[PIR editor’s note: According to its website, South Seas Tuna Corporation is a joint venture company of FCF Fisheries Company of Taiwan and Jaczon Group of Netherlands and Papua New Guinea interests. Wewak is the capital of East Sepik province, on the northeast coast of mainland Papua New Guinea. ]

They were terminated by the company’s management on Tuesday afternoon.

The women were stunned by the company’s action and fronted up in numbers at the SSTC Workers Union office on Tuesday afternoon and yesterday morning, seeking assistance from the union to demand an explanation for their termination from the SSTC.

A group of women from Passam told The National that the management did not give any reason for their termination but verbally asked them to move out of the company premises because they had been sacked.

SSTC Workers Union general secretary Bill Wangi said yesterday the women might have been terminated because they were absent from work for several days after the trucks that does the pick up and drop off broke down last week.

Mr. Wangi said the workers failure to turn up at work because of the breakdown in transport seemed the only explanation for their mass termination. He said obviously the women could not be blamed because no other vehicle was sent for them.

The vehicle used to pick up and drop off the employees is contracted to the company.

Wangi told The National that he met with the management of SST yesterday and that the company president Mike McCulley had reportedly expressed regret at the approach the management had taken.

Wangi said he had been assured the 313 women might be reinstated later this week.

The National contacted members of the SST management, but they declined comments.

SSTC, which set up operations in 2004, has a workforce of about 1,500, most involved in tuna loining and packaging.

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