By ISAAC NICHOLAS
HUNDREDS of workers protesting their working conditions and pay forcefully shut down operations at the liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant site at portion 152 in Central yesterday, The National reports.
The disgruntled workers shut the main gates at 3am yesterday, blocking access by heavy and light vehicles into the construction site.
They had demanded for a review of the service outline agreement (SoA) which included K3.25 per hour, risk allowances, double time for public holiday work and yearly project bonuses.
Spokesman Mea Bromess Arua said construction had been going on for two years and the workers, mostly unskilled labourers, were being paid at an hourly rate of K3.25.
The SoA is an agreement between the landowner umbrella company, Laba Holdings Ltd, and ExxonMobil outlining the conditions and benefits for people recruited to work with sub-contractors during the construction phase.
"We want the management of Laba Holdings to address our grievances," Arua said
Another frustrated worker, Martin Ebogo, who claimed to be a former mine worker, said the LNG was a multi-billion-kina project but workers were under-paid.
"We will not stop the project but they must review the SoA," he said.
He said even site supervisors and leading hands were underpaid.
Speaking to the workers, CCJV country manager John Bramley said there was an incident last week involving a sub-contractor, Red Sea, with its workers not getting their fortnight pay but that had been resolved.
He appealed to workers who were not paid to "go through the proper process through the workers' representative committee which will meet next Thursday".
"There are elements around who are not workers and the media who do not work on the site.
"This is our site and we will talk to you alone and not address it through the media," Bramley said.
"We need to get this site open and we will do whatever it takes to have this site remain open."
Laba Holdings chairman Raho Kevau said the K3.25 hourly rate was being addressed and that the company would be making representations to the national government to review the rates.
Kevau said the SoA rate was set by the national government and the developer without consulting Laba Holdings Ltd.
He said a newly-formed portion 152 association did not represent the landowners.
Kevau said there were elements with vested interest who were not legitimate representatives of the four impact villages trying to create problems and disharmony among the people.
"They are a bunch of rejects from the four villages who are here to cause problems for the employees.
"Laba Holdings is the legitimate umbrella company representing the 25,000 people who are shareholders through their four landowner companies."