Local Workers Unhappy With Treatment At Manus Center

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Asylum seeker detention center staff note disparate treatment

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 10, 2015) – The MP for Papua New Guinea's Manus Island says residents are growing increasingly frustrated by what they view as poor treatment of local staff at Australia's asylum seeker detention centre there.

Ronnie Knight says local people hired by the centre's operator, Transfield Services, are paid half as much as foreign workers despite doing the exact same job.

He says about 800 locals are employed at the centre, and there is a general feeling of discontent at the disparity.

"Their counterparts coming in from Australia and New Zealand who are doing this are getting probably over 10,000 Australian dollars a fortnight, while our guys are getting 300 kina to 500 kina for doing exactly the same work. So you see the situation is becoming just an issue of where - it's coming to a head where people are going to say, 'Look, this is enough, why are we putting up with it? Is it worth it?'".

Ronnie Knight says Manus is not seeing the benefits promised to the islands when the detention centre was reopened in 2013.

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