Building Trade Union Capacity in Papua New Guinea

A project to organise workers in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Liquefied Natural Gas Supply Chain

Project Objectives
The International Labour Organisation, International Transport Workers Federation (ITWF) and Australian Construction and Transport Unions (the Resource Unions) jointly support the PNG LNG Supply Chain organising project. The project has three main objectives:
1. To increase the social dividend from the LNG project to PNG workers
2. To organise workers involved in the construction, logistics and operations of the PNG LNG project through increased wages, conditions, workplace rights and skills development
3. To build the capacity and resources of the PNG Labour Movement

This project has focussed on (a) the PNG Maritime and Transport Workers Union (PNGMTWU) – which has coverage of road and marine transport, and (b) the PNG Energy Workers Union (PNGEWA) – which has coverage of workers in the oil, gas, refinery and electricity generation companies. Both unions experience significant resource constraints and experience in organising of this scale they have both expressed a strong interest in building a closer alliance with Australian resource unions and developing their internal capacity to organise and represent the growing number of LNG supply chain workers in PNG.

The project formally began in July 2012. However the PNGMTWU started work on the project in January 2012. The first stage has focused on mapping and capacity building within the PNGMTWU and the recruitment of new members to the union.

The key outcomes from this first stage of the project are:
• Formation of Australian resource unions’ solidarity network to support PNG resource unions
• 2 Full-time organisers (sea-based and shore-based) employed at PNGMTWU
• A commitment by the Australian project partners work together under the coordination of the ITF to increase their in-kind contributions to the development of the PNGEWA, PNGMTWU and PNG TUC with a particular focus on training and skills development
• Over 750 new members recruited to PNGMTWU from both shore-based and sea-based areas
• Project Partner leadership seminar in Port Moresby, September 2013
• Joint PNGEWA/PNGMTWU Organising Skills Training, 20 participants, in Port Moresby, September 2012
• Each training course specifically targeted participation by younger and women members of the project unions
• 4 project development and review visits to PNG by Project coordinator in June, September and December 2012
• Project organiser (Nancy Manga) attended 2 week “ Organising Skills” course in Sydney in 2012
• 4 PNG participants (project organiser and 3 union activists/delegates) attended one week “Train the Trainer” conducted by AMWU, Brisbane in February 2013
• AMWU, MUA and PNG leader/activist solidarity meeting, Brisbane, February 2013
• Inspection of PNG crewed ship in Cairns by Australian based ITF inspector to resolve underpayment issues, October 2012
• PNGMTWU member newsletter translated in 2 languages
• Port Moresby port area mapped and priority organising targets selected for next phase of the project
• Multiple visits to Lae to observe the construction of the gas plant and port
• Meeting with Santee Margis, General Secretary of Energy Workers Association and commitment to formalise EWA in the project
• Resourcing contribution towards purchase of new car to facilitate organising in remote ports/worksites, purchase of IT equipment to improve communication between project team and union members (PNGMTWU)