Trouble at RD Tuna as workers strike over minimum wage

RD Tuna security staff have been accused of harassing female workers who refused to start their night shift in support of 489 fellow workers suspended for demanding the company abide by PNG's minimum wage laws. According to witnesses at the plant, around 30 female workers were last night physically forced into the factory.

Workers at the RD Tuna plant are demanding the company pay them the minimum wage of K2.29 per hour.  Provincial Labor Officer, Peter Neimani, has told the RD workers that RD is in violation of the law by not paying the workers the K2.29. Neimani also says RD must back pay the workers from 21 January. 

The RD workers also want to see the reinstatement of 489 people who have been placed under "Preventive Suspension". The 489 had their identity cards taken by RD security for complaining that the minimum wage of K2.29 was not in their pay packets last week. RD claims the workers have been suspended for not meeting production targets.

On Monday the day shift workers walked out in support of their suspended colleagues and the night shift workers also supported the strike by not coming to work. The few workers who did show up on Monday evening decided not to go inside the plant. This apparently upset Paul Vingu, the RD Security Manager, who then forced a number of women to go inside the plant. As the women were forced into the plant male RD workers were yelling at Vingu and the security team. Vingu then called the police but as the police arrived the RD workers fled.

So far there has been no comment from RD Tuna boss Pete Celso on the workers demands for the minimum wage, the suspension of workers or the physical harrassment of female staff.

Read Nancy Sullivan's blog on the minimum wage issue at RD Tuna