PNG University Sued For Acting Registrar’s Reinstatement

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Jephta Girinde allegedly dismissed without due cause

By Oseah Philemon

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 18, 2013) – The interim council and administration of Papua New Guinea’s University of Technology (Unitech) have been called on to immediately reinstate the former acting registrar of the university, Jephta Girinde, or risk facing a multi-million kina lawsuit in court.

Private lawyer Ralph Saulep who is also the pro-chancellor in the Phillip Stagg Council, demanded yesterday that Mr. Girinde be reinstated without conditions and with all entitlements dating back to November 2012 when he was sacked by the administration.

"If Jephta is not reinstated immediately, then the university faces a multi-million kina lawsuit which is now being prepared," said Mr. Saulep in Lae. Mr. Saulep said Mr. Girinde was dismissed from his job for carrying out his lawful duties as acting executive officer to the Council.

"This is grossly unfair. He was persecuted, denied natural justice and the administration and the Bogan interim council refused to grant him a fair hearing when he appealed against his dismissal," Mr Saulep said.

Mr. Girinde said he was also intimidated, threatened and subjected to harsh treatment by the university which included using security personnel to force him and his family out of their university house.

Mr. Girinde said he now has a court order in place restraining the administration from evicting him and his family until the matter has been properly dealt with.

Yesterday Mr. Girinde met with his lawyers to prepare his case against the university.

"My family has suffered enormously from the ill-treatment from the university and I am seeking justice. I was sacked for merely doing my job. I did not break any laws yet I was sacked for claims of insubordination and causing stress to the administration and the students.

"I have been put under more stress than what I was alleged to have caused the university administration," Mr. Girinde said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Saulep yesterday called on the Minister for Higher Education Don Polye to immediately release the Sevua Report on Unitech so that the truth comes out for all stakeholders to see.

Mr. Saulep said the delay in releasing the report is not in the best interest of the stakeholders and the minister should release it immediately.

Mr. Saulep said everyone was unnecessarily being kept in suspense by Mr. Polye.

"The Prime Minister publicly stated that the government would implement the recommendations of the Sevua Report so let it be released now," said Mr. Saulep.

It is understood the government may be reluctant to accept certain recommendations of the report and wants to study it carefully before it is released.

But Mr. Saulep is adamant that the report must be released to the public without delay as the crisis at Unitech has caused so much anxiety and stress for all stakeholders.

Mr. Saulep also called on the university administration to cease payment of salaries for the Australian-based vice chancellor Dr. Albert Schram.

He said Dr Schram has been terminated as of last November and it was illegal for the university to continue paying him salaries.

"Schram is no longer the vice chancellor and three judges sitting in court have upheld the Phillip Stagg Council’s decision to terminate his services.

"It is therefore illegal to continue paying him salaries," Mr. Saulep said.

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