by Vasinatta Yama – EM TV, Port Moresby
Today marked the first time in history for the Commonwealth parliamentary services staff to go on strike.
With the introduction of a stand-alone pay structure, more than 300 staff have been degraded and given new positions in their divisions. They raised concerns that their backdated pay, since January 2014, is less than what was initially approved by the speaker of parliament.
The incident started yesterday afternoon when staff and officers realised that their salary pay outs for their back-dated payments were lesser and unbalanced throughout all divisions. The new pay structure was introduced recently for the parliamentary services staff as a benchmark to ensure a fair pay increase for all positions.
Parliament’s human resource department has shifted staff from one salary grade to another; their grade 1 level shifted to the equivalent of public service’s grade 5 level.
Staff raised complaints that they never formally received their new position or grade level and were not aware until yesterday afternoon when they checked their bank accounts for their fortnight. Some have served there for some 10 to 30 years. They petitioned the Parliamentary Services management not to manipulate the duties and powers of service officers.
Acting Parliament Clerk Danny Poli assured them that he will look into the matter immediately. He is hopeful that the issue will not affect next week’s budget lockdown session.
The staff also wanted to know what formula was used to calculate the backdated payment. Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare came out to calm the situation and assured that he would talk to Speaker Theo Zurenuoc on their behalf.