Indefinite stop work for Telikom workers

By: Cedric Patjole

An indefinite stop-work action has been taken by staff of Telikom PNG Limited following what they deem as an unsatisfactory response from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

President of the Communication Workers Union, Nug Mamtirin, said the stop work action will continue until they meet with the Prime Minister over the proposed Telikom, bmobile and Data Co merger.

Mamtirin says their stance remains and that is that the proposed merger to be abandoned and that Mahesh Patel be removed as board chairman.

They assert that the merge will see the jobs lost and the creation of monopoly in the telecommunication and internet service market. They also said the legislation allowing for the merge is not in place.

In a letter dated January 28 to O’Neill, the union remains steadfast and wants no other alternative, despite a letter from the Prime Minister seven days prior explaining the rationale behind the merger.

“He said it is a government policy. Yes we do understand Government policy but we are reminding the Prime Minister whether it is a political decision or government policy, it will always end up an industrial issue.

“Right now they are talking about merging, there is no guarantee for the 600 employees of Telikom who are now working in this company. If the merger comes into play, what is the future of the workers?” Mamtirin asked.

He added: “We refuse it at all cost. Those three entities must remain as they are.”

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The union also claims Patel to be unqualified to be chairman and that he was using Telikom PNG to further the agenda of the CPL Group of Companies.

They allege that he has run down Telikom over the last five years and only declaring a profit for 2016.

“Mahesh Patel is not a fit person to be appointed as the chairman of Kumul Telikom Board because he holds a diploma in pharmaceutical practice.

“It would be fit and proper for them to appoint him probably as the chairman of the Port Moresby General Hospital,” Mamtirin said.

“Papua New Guineans have run Telikom for the last 55 years. They have declared profit year after year. But Telikom have not declared profit under Mahesh Patel in his term as chairman.”

Patel told Loop PNG that he has an open door policy and if the staff of the union had an issue regarding the company’s performance, they only need to ask him.

When contacted by Loop PNG today, Patel said he is more than willing to speak with the union over Telikom’s performance, which the Board has taken out paid advertisements to show. He also said he can provide them with his credentials since they have questioned his credibility.

Patel added his appointment stems from a National Executive Council decision and thus can only be revoked by Cabinet.

Mamtirin, when asked by Loop PNG, says they will speak to Patel only after they have met with the Prime Minister.

He said their letter has been delivered to the office of the Chief Secretary, Isaac Lupari, who will set up the meeting for them.

Last week, Minister for National Planning and Acting Minister for Public & State Investment, Charles Abel, announced Cabinet’s decision to rescind John Mango’s appointment as managing director of Kumul Telikom.

Picture credit: Cedric Patjole

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