Chapter Seven : Attitudes and Perceptions in a Multicultural Environment: The Workers at Porgera Mine
By: Benedict Y. Imbun - UPNG Press 2000.
| The multicultural workplace | Attitudes to Mining | Perception of Mine Employment | Tribal Strategy | Entrepreneur Strategy | Worker Strategy | Workers & PMAWU Union | PJV's attitudes toward Porgeran workers & community | Porgeran workers' viewsto other workers | Porgeran parallel with African tribalism | Chapter 7 Summary| Table of contents |
Attitudes and Perceptions in a Multicultural Environment: The Workers at Porgera Mine
Chapter seven is based largely on interviews conducted on a sample of Porgeran and non-Porgeran workers, including some of the expatriate management personnel of the mine. Given the inaccessibility and problematic logistics of the mine site, the interviews were largely unstructured and interviewees were randomly selected for my convenience. Questions were asked about the Porgeran (ethnic) workers' attitudes to mining, their perceptions of mine employment, trade unions, and other workers. To achieve a balanced account, interviews were also held with other national workers and senior expatriate supervisors to find out about the Porgeran workers' behaviour at the mine. Additionally, PJV's attitude to Porgeran workers and the general Porgeran community is also examined. Some of the ethnographic material is synthesised and some is directly quoted. My aim is to indicate something of the rich tapestry of attitudes and perceptions as a tribal society is transformed into an industrial workforce. The methods used were primarily anthropological with me in the role of non-participating observer.
Generally the multicultural workplace accommodates a mix of workers from different ethnic background. Most notably in the United States, Australia and Britain multiculturalism has become not only a workplace phenomenon but a political agenda for shaping and implementing policies to reflect the diverse composition of the populations in these countries (Jackson, 1992; Shaw, 1995). In the workplaces the concept of managing diversity has only recently become absorbed into the human resource management domain. According to O'Mara (1994:83) this approach 'confronts' inherent assumptions, biases, and prejudices about different types of people and explores ways in which working arrangements and management styles can be flexibly applied to redress such perceptions. In other words the different attitudes, beliefs, values and customs of workers are taken into account by management when devising strategies to balance work and leisure (Nakervis, Compton, and McCarthy, 1996).
Rimmer (1972) and Grint (1991) discovered that apart from language as the most obvious of the ethnic barriers, customary views of morality, discipline, seniority in promotion, work behaviour and social ties and responsibilities also govern workplace behaviour.
Quite contrary to the multicultural workplaces found in developed countries, what is unique about the multicultural workforce at the Porgera mine is that apart from the few expatriate workers everyone is Papua New Guinean. However below the level of nationality PNG is one of the most heterogeneous societies in the world and every individual worker at the Porgera mine displays some kind of behaviour that reflects his or her ethnic cultural grouping. Some attempts to capture the dynamics and complexities of working in a heterogeneous and multicultural workforce are presented here.
Neither Kerr et al. (1960) nor Siddique (1989), whose models are used in this book, mentioned in any detail about a multi-cultural workforce as a problem to be reckoned with by management or government in the industrialisation process. Kerr et al. however, acknowledged that most societies have a stratification structure which is traditionally 'rigid' but that the culture of industrialisation, with its antagonistic and technocratic its classes comprised of professionals, managers, administrators, and industrial workers, will be expected to replace the pre-industrial ordering of social groups (1960:82). However, they did articulate universal responses by workers to industrialisation which typically reflects the extent of their attachment or the stage of their commitment to industrial work. The Porgeran case will exemplify some of the attitudes and behaviours which are most likely to be found amongst workers in Kerr et al.'s continuum of behavioural change which marks the transition of the worker from a traditional society into adherence to an industrial way of life (1960:170). However, as the Porgerans are late participants in the modern economy, it was not surprising they formed some specific attitudes as to how they were going to participate and benefit from the mine as it was going to be established in their area.
A section of the multicultural workforce at Porgera mine - 1997 See graphic - buy the book
Porgeran Attitudes to Mining
The PNG government approved the Porgera mine development plan in 1987 and the Porgeran community saw this as heralding a new era of modernisation for them. Chiefs and persons of influence eagerly wanted the mine, which they expected would generate much needed economic benefits. The enthusiasm of the community was in contrast to the responses of other Engans who wanted the mine contingent upon the developer investing in the province's various key infrastructural projects such as roads, hospitals and schools. The latter's view was based on the fear that the rest of the Enga districts would miss out on the expected benefits from the Porgera mine and only a comprehensive social assistance package from the developer would put them on equal footing with the Porgerans who lived in the vicinity of the mine (Samson, 1991:5). But for the Porgerans there was going to be no strings attached to mining on their land provided they receive maximum benefits, both in business spin offs and employment opportunities.
However, local perceptions of the mine reflected the Porgerans' limited knowledge and comprehension of what was to be involved. The technology, scale of operations and resultant social impact of the mine were beyond the scope of Ipili knowledge and experience to predict. Similarly, various social impact studies (Jackson, 1986; Wohlt, 1986; Pacific Agribusiness, 1987) noted that there were numerous instances of misinterpreting the adverse social changes that were to be generated by the mine. Many viewed access to alcohol and prostitution as good 'as long as it did not cost much'. Some viewed the influx of outsiders to the project as 'good only if they are our relatives' (Pacific Agribusiness, 1987:56). Generally, negative consequences were shadowed by the expectations of numerous compensation handouts and other instant and long term benefits the mine was expected to provide to the Porgeran community.
In retrospect, after eight years of the mine's operation, the Porgerans' wildest dreams seemed to have paled into insignificance. Their complacent attitudes coupled with the exaggerated expectations of the mine have opened the floodgate for Engans and others to congregate at Porgera. As a result a very serious social problem has engulfed the once tranquil community. A PJV sponsored social monitoring report found that an annual injection of around K4 million into the Porgeran community by the mine in the form of compensation pay-outs, royalties, wages, and business spin offs have had an adverse social impact on the community. The report also found that housing problems, excessive alcohol consumption, prostitution, and violence were on the rise especially in and around the special mining lease areas. These problems have been increasingly precipitated by unequal access to the cash economy which has stratified the once egalitarian community where of a few new 'elites' have demonstrated their 'money power' by engaging in polygamous marriages and by maintaining exorbitant living styles (Banks, 1993:21-25, 1996:223). For the majority of the Porgerans, there is still a strong sense of nostalgia for old life style and a determination to preserve their humble lives, despite the adverse social and economic consequences of the mine. At the same time, there is a desire to improve living conditions and to gain education especially for children (Interview, Masket).
Porgeran Perception of Mine Employment
Unlike in developed countries where a person's 'orientation to work' is influenced by their family, community and class situations (Goldthorpe, 1980) Papua New Guinean miners have no work attitudes and perceptions to drawn on in their background. Brown and Brannen (1970:1) and Daniel (1970:199) mention that western miners' attitudes and expectations of work can effectively be understood in terms of their work, community and craft traditions. Because of the recent opening of the mines and the general introduction of capitalism into the country, it is not surprising sometimes to see tribal miners' attitudes to work and reward as odd and unpredictable. Papua New Guinean miners' attitudes and behaviour at work may also be explained by reference to non-work factors. Porgeran mineworkers have developed their skills in not only employment but also village activities and business. Attitudes to employment varied amongst the many Porgeran mineworkers interviewed.
Several interviewees considered wage employment to be the easiest, however not necessarily the most desirable, way of generating a cash income. However they were adamant that they wanted to be wage earners throughout the rest of their lives. They stressed the importance of a continual supply of money now that Porgera had opened up to the rest of the country and now that more economic activities were taking place in the area. Their desires to build permanent houses, to raise cash crops and livestock, to invest in tribal business associations, to possess a wide range of consumer goods and appliances and have their children educated were repeated often in the interviews.
The views expressed by the Porgeran mine workers can be broadly analysed under three common approaches to general wage employment. Each of the three approaches reflect Kerr et al.'s (1960:170) first three of their four stages of behavioural change which indicate the level of commitment by workers to industrial employment. They are first the 'tribal strategy', second 'entrepreneur strategy' and third the 'worker strategy'.
The Porgeran workers who adopted the 'tribal strategy' happened to be largely unskilled and semi-skilled, many of whom expressed the lowest degree of commitment to mine work. They resemble Kerr et al.'s 'uncommitted worker' who has no intention of entering industrial employment on any continuing basis. Therefore the uncommitted Porgeran workers considered their involvement in mine work to be peripheral, while attending to tribal obligations was of prime importance. They mentioned their desire to accumulate enough money through their wages so that they could attend to tribal activities such as hosting occasional pig exchange ceremonies, settling differences with enemy tribes and paying bride prices for more wives to consolidate their 'big man' status in their villages. They regarded herding more livestock and venturing into some kind of entrepreneurial activity which would provide a steady income in their villages as viable alternatives to mine work. They mentioned that the skills (carpentry, driving, accounting and operating heavy equipment) they have acquired while working for the mine would enable them to start their own economic endeavour in the village. Most saw their mine work as a medium for providing for more satisfactory and wider involvement in the village. However as one remarked' with only my driving licence I can not go far when Porgera closes, so working on the land helps me to establish my future at home' (Interview, Kananu). The uncommitted group, in other words, were somewhat like the 'target worker' in the former apartheid South African gold mines whose embrace of employment was temporary and undertaken for an immediate purpose (Kerr et al., 1960:171).
The second approach, the 'entrepreneur strategy', is characterised by participation in wage employment as well as other economic pursuits, especially business enterprises. Only a small proportion of interviewees chose to spread their time, labour and capital assets over a range of town and village based activities. According to Kerr et al. such groups of workers are semi-committed to industrial work because they are at the margin of two ways of life. They may work regularly but maintain their connection with the land, the tribe, or the village (Kerr et al., 1960:171). These Porgeran entrepreneurs were from immediate villages surrounding the mine and Porgera town whose income was supplemented with money derived through participation in other economic ventures. These ventures ranged from running small retail shops, workshops and petrol stations, to operating bus lines and raising chickens. However the most profitable enterprises were those contracted to the mine which included construction, transportation, laundering, catering, cleaning and security. Mostly kinsmen ran the businesses and the entrepreneurs themselves only participated after mine work and on weekends. The entrepreneurs were a privileged few who had a sound financial base not only because of the wages they earned from the mine but also from royalties and other compensation benefits if their villages were close to the mine. They visibly demonstrated their status, for example by driving new four-wheel vehicles, living in high rise corrugated roofed houses and marrying more than one wife.
Porgerans who adopted the entrepreneur strategy were found in all types of occupation, from the unskilled to those employed in senior positions in the mine. They were likely to be given preferential treatment from PJV, receiving new spin-off contracts and management assistance. Because of general, minimal understanding about the basics of doing business, most of these business enterprises have failed. These failures have been blamed mainly on lavish spending by the owners. During the period of my interviews, some of the bigger Porgeran businesses were saved from bankruptcy with the intervention of PJV management personnel.
The third approach, unlike the first two approaches, involved some generally better educated Porgeran workers with a stronger commitment to their jobs in the mine. Although only a very small number of workers took this approach, they were the few educated Porgerans who saw wage employment as the sole source of cash income. Although they had a general commitment to work, they did not strictly resemble Kerr et al.'s fully committed worker who became a permanent member of an urban, industrial or urban workforce (1960:171). This is because this group of Porgeran workers have not severed their connections with their villages. This is despite them having very little intention of investing their earnings in village economic activities. The 'worker strategy', which appropriately describes this group of workers, also wanted to stay in the jobs as long as the mine lasted. The main difference between these last two approaches by Porgeran workers is that the worker strategy group wanted job stability and they were prepared to make adjustments to accommodate all the institutional aspects of urban living and industrial employment, which is very much one of the features of a committed industrial workforce. They also desired mobility in their jobs so that they could go and work in other PNG mines. This was despite the Porgera mine work arrangements where all Porgerans commuted to the mine from their villages. Although the desire to belong to the country's already emerging working class was evident when they talked of sending their children to the best schools in the country so that they could end up with well paid jobs. Some mentioned that they were loyal members of the PMAWU and experienced much concern about the company's wage rates, accommodation policies, localisation policies, management-worker relations and social problems. However, these views were similar to those who were isolated from their villages and found themselves in an urban milieu. Two recent college accountant graduates, for example, expressed concern about the high cost of living associated with town residence, but they also lamented the fact that in the villages they were obliged to support their immediate relatives (Interview, Minambatae and Lombut).
However, Kerr et al.'s (1960:172) specifically committed worker, who meets all the requirements of an industrial workforce on the continuum of behaviour change, is yet develop amongst Porgeran and other PNG workers. This is because attachments to the industrial way of life and also to a particular employer and often to a particular occupation have not yet developed in PNG although this may happen in the future when the country achieves a higher stage of industrial employment, more on par with the developed countries.
At the mine, many Porgeran workers did mainly 'secondary' jobs. This was largely because of their basic handicaps of lack of formal western education, lack of industrial work experience and inability to adhere to the mine's work routines. Some senior PJV personnel considered that there were particular areas of operation which required efficient work performance to maintain continuity in the processing and these could only be handled by skilled professional workers. Processing, milling and refining plants at the mine were staffed by non-Porgerans whom the management trusted to maintain uninterrupted operation. However this was in the early days of the mine. As more Porgerans have completed the company's on-the-job training, up to one in seven of the employees in these skilled positions were Porgerans (Interview, Paken).
High rates of absenteeism and labour turnover were common among most of the Porgeran employees. According to Kerr et al. (1960) the response of workers to industrialisation typically reflects the extent of their commitment to the industrial workplace. Therefore for the many Porgeran first-time wage earners, this was not surprising. An expatriate employee mentioned that absenteeism and labour turnover of Porgeran workers were serious problems during the early stages of the mine development but no data were kept on non-Porgeran rates of absenteeism. For wage employees between June 1989 and June 1990 for instance, absenteeism estimates ranged between 20 and 40 per cent each fortnight of possible production time. The absenteeism rate for Porgerans was over five times that for non-Porgeran employees. According to Kerr et al. absenteeism was an universal response by workers to the dissatisfactions and frustrations arising from the shift to a new industrial workplace. They called this the 'wrenching from the old and the groping for the new in the industrialising community' (1960:202). In contrast, to these mines money coming from huge compensation pay-outs by the company to Porgeran lease landowners and other spin-off earnings from the project were two of the main reasons responsible for the high level of absenteeism. This encouraged some Porgerans to have a 'half-hearted' approach' to mine work. But it was those Porgerans who adopted the 'tribal strategy' and 'entrepreneurial' approach to work, who had the highest rates of absenteeism, as they were either uncommitted or semi-committed to work which often reflected their very close association with their village life. At various junctures, PJV has attempted to enhance attitudes to work generally by providing transport for workers, providing lunch, and maintaining a close association with clan leaders and others (Interview, Walters).
There have been some marked improvements in attendance at work which partly reflects the reduced economic opportunities available to Porgerans now compared to those three years ago. Also better attendance is partly due to the company's stricter approach to absenteeism and to a well managed counselling system at the mine. However unauthorised absenteeism still continues to be a major problem for those Porgerans in some of the most desired jobs in the company, such as the operation of heavy machinery. A PJV study into the problem in 1993 concluded that absenteeism in these areas was due to job monotony, physical fatigue and low pay, reasons similar to those found by similar studies counted in the industrialised west (PJV, 1993:20).
As noted, labour turnover is also high among Porgerans. Between 1989 and 1991, terminations amounted to 30 per cent of the average number of Porgeran employees but only 15 per cent of non-Porgerans. The precise reasons for terminations are not clear but most of the Porgerans seem to have been retrenched after completion of specific mine projects, for theft, absenteeism, and aggressive behaviour in the work place. The PJV has blamed unsatisfactory supervisor-employee relations and a poorly developed work ethic amongst Porgerans for job termination and absenteeism (Interview, Mathews). However, the mine's positive recruitment policy towards Porgerans continues at the time of writing. A terminated Porgeran is replaced with another Porgeran, thus reducing tensions between the community and PJV.
Evidence of the work performance of the Porgeran workers employed by PJV is limited. Company records are not publicly available. I conducted interviews mostly with expatriate supervisors and other Papua New Guinean workers in which Porgeran workers' work performance was discussed. Among the Porgerans a special preference was found for driving heavy vehicles and the Porgerans' abilities and skills in this area judged to be equal to that of other workers. As already alluded to, PJV has provided transport and lunch to encourage Porgeran work attendance. Provision of meals on site has become crucial to maintaining productivity since Porgerans are commonly believed (by other mine personnel) to work for not more than 5 hours on the job because of their poor diet (Interview, Walters).
The Porgeran mineworkers' attitude towards the PMAWU in general was one of apathy. Those who took some interest in the organisation were the few college educated white-collar workers, who became members of PMAWU as soon as they sought employment with the mine. However the bulk of the Porgeran manual workforce, regarded the organisation as an 'opposition group' to the mine management. As one mine gatekeeper mentioned, 'why should we belong to PMAWU which always argues with PJV on almost everything. We do not want to ask for more from a company that has brought us to this stage because further union demands on wages and others will force the mine to close' (Interview, Bolan). The company has on various occasions taken advantage of this positive support for its mining endeavours by using locals as strike busters and security guards when there was a strike. Their loyalty was reflected in the PMAWU's 1994 strike which only lasted for a week because most of the Porgeran and expatriate workers cooperated with PJV and did the jobs of the strikers. This eventually broke the strength of the strike. Most of the Porgeran workers see the educated Porgerans who are members of PAMWU as 'traitors and back-stabbers' (Interview, Sakarias). The Porgerans are very much akin to the 'deferential' worker identified by Lockwood (1958).
However the 200 Porgerans who are members of the 1600 strong hold PMAWU, have become some of its most vocal members. This has not only strengthened the organisation but has created problems for the union because of unique demands. Sometimes this puts the union in an awkward situation. Should it prioritise the unique needs of such groups of members or ignore them and adhere to its own primary role of attending to industrial issues of the entire membership? This dilemma has been experienced twice since PMAWU's establishment in 1991. The first instance in 1992 involved the Porgeran members of the union demanding that the organisation support their claim that all Porgeran workers accommodated in company camps. The union leaders, however, refused to bring this issue to PJV, because the requirement for Porgeran workers to commute from their villages and it was therefore not an industrial issue. In turn the Porgerans threatened to withdraw their membership but after much consultation by the PMAWU executive they were eventually convinced that it was not an industrial issue.
Similarly, the next issue involved the majority of the Engan workers, including the Porgeran workers, who wanted PJV to cease the 'fly-in, fly-out' mode of commuter mine operation and instead put up a permanent mining town in Porgera. Although the rest of the workers from other parts of PNG were at ease with the existing arrangement, they had to support the issue in the 1994 strike because 'we were overwhelmingly outnumbered in voting and we had to go with them' (Interview, Waso). It seems Porgeran union members will continue to put pressure on PMAWU to take up some of their unique issues along with other industrial issues. One Porgeran union member said, 'it (PMAWU) is the major avenue where we can put all our worries be it political, economic, or social to PJV' (Interview, Kam).
On the other hand, union officials indicated that they were inundated with complaints of favoured treatment of Porgerans from other workers because of PJV's approach towards integration of Porgerans into the mine workforce at the expense of other ethnic groups. Most of the time, it was the Engan workers who voiced such sentiments. As a result there was a growing anti-Porgeran sentiment mainly amongst the workers from other provinces, partly because of PJV's preferential recruitment policy towards Porgerans. Some of the skilled workers had a constant fear that their jobs were in jeopardy from Porgerans understudying them. It was not difficult to confirm suggestions made by respondents in the interviews that there was discrimination against non-Porgeran national workers. An expatriate personnel manager mentioned that positive treatment of Porgerans was not only politically and legally permissible but also economically suitable for the company (Interview, Joyce).
The PMAWU attitude was that it could not do more than raise the matter with the mine's management because of the various mine agreements justifying the predominance of Porgerans in the mine workforce. With such complaints from most of its members and with a call from Porgeran union members to address some of their concerns, the PMAWU is challenged not to ignore either side while at the same time maintaining its industrial role (Interview, Mukin).
Expatriate and Other Workers' Views on Porgerans
In the course of my interviews, I noted that expatriates and other non-Porgeran national workers had some specific perceptions of Porgerans at the workplace. It was found that most expatriates admired the work performance of their Porgeran workers. They talked of the Porgeran workers' ability to learn and to advance to some demanding positions within a relatively short period of time. There was also the tendency to generalise with both negative and positive perceptions of Porgeran workers' habits to other PNG workers. As a mine foreman said, 'several years ago they didn't even know how to turn a spanner, or tighten a bolt, let alone the Engans and other nationals'. Another foreman compared Porgerans to some Australian Aborigines he had worked with in the one of the mines in Western Australia: 'These boys are a couple of hundred years ahead of the Abos'. Other typical comments made about Porgerans were: 'They are above average in operating intelligence'. But some expatriates took a different view, as one remarked: 'How do you expect them to learn anything when only a few years ago they were acting like five-year olds?' 'We came to do a job but spend most of our time training school kids'. 'It's a real challenge to drum something into this group' (Interview, Mortimer).
In contrast to the mixed expatriate views, other Papua New Guinean workers', including other Engan workers', views of Porgerans were usually negative. There was an overwhelming attitude amongst many workers that Porgerans were generally in efficient workers. A PJV section manager suggested that there appeared to be a growing anti-Porgeran sentiment among some workers, partly as a reaction to their preferential treatment by the company. Most of the views expressed by these workers reflected their higher levels of education. 'We still regard them as backwards and that is why they can do only the basic jobs and us the far 'better' ones', a group of auto mechanics remarked. Additionally, there were many comments about the general life style of Porgeran people whose recent contact with development and change occurred through the mining project. Some workers from Port Moresby, PNG's capital city, mentioned that Porgerans had a very limited knowledge of money: 'As soon as they get it, they spend it on booze and women, as if there is no tomorrow'. These views were further supported by the Engan workers who saw that a lot of money had been poured into the small population by the project but that very little use had been made of it in terms of business and other investments. A couple of workers from Madang mentioned that if it was not for the company's preferential recruitment and business policies towards Porgerans, Porgerans would not have had the slimmest hope of being a part of the mine's workforce (Interview, Malgan and Palus).
However, many of these views were based on observations rather than direct personal contact between expatriates, other Papua New Guineans and Porgerans. The various ethnic groups of workers seldom socialised with each other outside the workplace because of the mine's policy that Porgerans commute to work from their villages. Mixed social games were organised by the company but they were not frequent and personal contacts were largely superficial, with seldom any display of familiarity.
Not surprisingly, given the importance of landowner rights, PJV's attitude toward the Porgeran workers was positive, with preferential treatment given them in all aspects of the employment, recruitment, training, and promotion. The company has employed personnel with specialist responsibility for dealing with Porgerans. They manned the Porgeran Liaison Office (PLO) of the personnel department This section took direct responsibility for dealing with issues related to recruitment, for counselling, and for advising supervisors and staff to form better understanding with Porgeran workers. The two expatriates who managed the section said that general improvement in communication and understanding between management supervisors and Porgeran workers had resulted from the establishment of the PLO. They also mentioned that Porgeran work performance improved after the appointment of several Porgeran liaison officers. The company defended its special treatment of Porgerans by saying it was simply adhering to its obligation to assist a needy group of workers to keep pace with the rest of the workers and that the company's prime interest was in maintaining high productivity. In the face of its critics the company was able to go beyond assisting its Porgeran employees to engage in the life of the Porgeran community. As part of its social commitment to the people of Porgera and to some extent the people of Enga, PJV administered a large community relations department. It employed more than 80 staff. It including four expatriates who were former Kiaps (patrol officers). These employees headed the different sections which ensured the smooth functioning of the various aid programs provided for Porgerans (including other Engans) and the inhabitants of the adjacent parts of the Southern Highlands province. These programs ranged from dispensing various compensation and royalty payments to landowners, to making donations to schools and churches. However the most important and generously funded program was for infrastructural and social services in and around the Porgera district. The upgrading and establishment of school and health centre facilities was made possible and an outreach fund was also created to take care of areas outside Porgera.
Apart from these projects, PJV was actively involved on a daily basis in the life of the Porgeran community through maintaining regular effective communication. It believed this to be the best way to resolve problems to the satisfaction of all. The involvement at different times of senior PJV management and Porgeran elders and landowners illustrates the degree of their commitment. Common issues such as increasing the number of jobs for Porgerans, educational sponsorship of Porgeran school students and funding of social services were all considered in the PLO meetings. Most of the consultation, however, took place on an informal, needs basis. The company spokesperson saw his role with the Porgeran community involving serving as 'a close neighbour, with moral obligations to assist the community in any way it can' (Interview, Stevens).
Several factors have converged to bring this positive attitude of the Porgera mine to the Porgeran community. Since the closure of the Bougainville copper mine in 1990 because of civil disorder, mining companies in PNG have taken an increasingly proactive role in maintaining their relations with host local communities. PJV has quickly established a general trend in which it sees its role of social responsibility as significant, and an integral part of the management of the mine. There are other factors which have come to affect the operation of the mine such as pressure from the Porgeran community and the general condition of social services in this area. Although PJV's injection of millions of kina into some of the community projects has heralded a new dimension of mining-aided development, such a role has become more imperative, as the community relations manager commented, 'there is no choice but to meet this (role) as a prerequisite to operating a socially and politically sound mine in the eyes of the public' (Interview, Walters).
Porgeran Workers' Views on Other Workers
Like the other workers' views of them, the Porgeran workers also had reserved views of non-Porgeran workers. There were several factors which determined what 'positive' views they had on some and 'negative' views on others. The positive views Porgeran workers held were determined by several factors. These ranged from coming from the same origins and districts and sharing the same ancestry, to speaking the same language. Similarly, the 'negative' views Porgeran workers held were shaped by identifying other workers largely having not come from the same origins and district. It is worth stating the two types of views here to indicate the problems of multicultural workplaces in the PNG context.
The overwhelming majority of Porgeran mineworkers generally identified with other Porgerans rather than with people from other provinces. They were conscious of their recent (neglected) past and wanted to maintain a happy relationship with the mine which they saw as one of the few major opportunities for them to engage in the cash economy. Most of the Porgeran workers accorded their educated tribesmen respect and affection but when it came to discussing union activities their views differed. While it was a common understanding between all of them that more Porgerans had to be employed at the mine, Porgerans also felt that they lacked most of the specialised professional and technical skills the mine demanded. They put constant pressure on PJV through their Porgeran recruitment representatives to provide more training and educational scholarships for Porgerans. Porgerans often held the view that they should keep all the jobs in the mine rather than allowing other Papua New Guineans and expatriates to come to the mine.
Generally, Porgerans displayed some sense of pride in blessed with a big mine in which others came to work. In the rest of Enga Province, Porgerans were referred to as the 'gold people' or 'money people' because of the exorbitant bride prices a few of them had paid for their wives from other parts of Enga and the Highlands. They developed a taste for expensive four-wheel drive vehicles and latest household appliances from the earnings and royalty payments from the mine. One elder gladly remarked that they were on equal footing with not only the Engans when it came to 'trying out modern luxuries' but also with others in the country (Interview, Cemata).
However, at the workplace, some of the attitudes of Porgerans were merely arrogant. Porgeran workers were known to be more sensitive than other workers to any direct or implied negative remarks which they interpreted as despising their way of life. There were several known minor incidents when particular infuriated Porgerans assaulted other workers and were eventually terminated. In one incident at the time of the author's field trip, a Porgeran worker physically assaulted several workers in the mine's light vehicle workshop after one of them humiliated him for passing a wrong tool. The Porgeran, himself an apprentice, told the stunned five mechanics that 'you are here at the mercy of PJV, but I am a Porgeran, you know that, the 'owner' of this mine. So do not look down on us because we can not think and work like you are doing. It's not as hard as you people want us to believe because we will do everything very soon' (Interview, Kalico). This was not an isolated incident, there were many similar incidents of confrontation between Porgeran workers and other workers, including expatriate trainers. When such incidents happened the Porgerans would always claim the mine was 'theirs' and 'visitors' should always respect them and PJV.
Despite other Engan workers coming from the same province, they were considered 'distant' tribesmen. However they had special preferences and affection for Paialas and Tari people, with whom it was maintained they shared a common ancestry and territories. Although commuting to work from their villages made it difficult to extend further interaction, they made sure their Paialas and Taris tribesmen were better treated by PJV management. There were several instances of sacked Paialas and Tari workers seeking assistance from the PLA so that they could be reinstated again. Reinstatement usually happened because the company had to consult senior Porgeran landowners before dismissing not only a Porgeran employee but also members of related tribes. A foreman said, 'some Porgerans literally beg the management for reinstatement on every occasion when one of their distant Piala or Tari relatives have been terminated' (Interview, Walker). Most of these 'appeal cases' were not successful but Porgeran workers made sure their relationships with the Paialas and Taris were not jeopardised, by seeking to defend their interests.
However Porgeran workers also thought in negative terms about other groups of workers who hailed from other provinces.
Almost all of the Porgeran workers had either a completely negative or mixed views on other non-Porgeran workers within the Porgera mine. On the basis of an analysis of their responses, three broad types of negative views emerged which help explain why Porgerans wanted to receive most of the benefits from the mine.
The negative attitudes reflected the grudges Porgerans had towards Engans and others in general because of the isolated conditions in which they had previously lived for many years, without adequate social and economic services from provincial and national governments. There was also a fixed set of attitudes held by Porgeran workers towards interaction with other ethnic groups in Porgera. These attitudes were noticeable in the majority of Porgerans in the very selective approaches they made in terms of approaching other groups and the reserved attitudes they had towards other Engan workers. Most importantly it should also be noted that educated Porgerans' attitudes were similar to uneducated Porgerans' attitudes with respect to demands for more jobs and educational sponsorships for their tribe.
Evidence from other tribal mining communities suggest that workers tend to form associations along ethnic and tribal lines in an attempt to seek identification, protection and solidarity. Therefore there are general anthropological parallels between PNG's Porgeran ethnic situation and the African 'tribalism' in mining towns. Mitchell (1970) and Epstein (1978) mentioned that African miners in the Zambian copperbelt were involved in a complex network of social relations consisting of ties with neighbours, work-mates, friends and acquaintances. But the core of the network was centred around tribal circles in which one (mining) town-dweller called each other 'tribesman' (Mitchell, 1970:125). Just as the Porgeran workers see other ethnic Porgerans as their own and held attitudes on this basis, in the copperbelt mining towns the framing of social relations was based predominantly on tribalism as in opposition to 'class' or other relations in a new social environment (Kapferer, 1986). While Moodie mentions that 'urban tribalism' in South African mines is a response to the circumstances of urban life itself where people attempt to comprehend or make sense of the bewildering complexity and heterogeneity of the urban mining towns by forming tribal associations for the purposes of identification, socialisation and for maintaining solidarity. Those who are not part of the tribal group are regarded as just 'others' and therefore they treat them with 'suspicion' and 'indifference' (1983:46).
However, there are differences between PNG's Porgeran ethnic grouping and African urban tribalism. Basically, the Porgeran workers commute to work from their local independent communities which are identical in structure and function while, the Africans are largely immigrant workers from diverse and distant tribal regions who are housed in large mining compounds. Yet, despite the different residential arrangements of work, what is apparent is that both groups of workers tend to have a positive association with their own ethnic or tribal grouping and form fixed attitudes which frame social relations. Further, the dominant 'Porgeranisation' or 'tribalisation' of social networks is facilitated and consolidated by some very firm and prejudiced stereotypes of other groups of people. The African workers utilise tribalism as a basic medium for adaptation in a supposedly 'alien' working community while the Porgeran workers continue to uphold and adhere to their Porgeran identity which allows a very selective approach to dealing with other Papua New Guinean workers.
Yet it would be a mistake to exaggerate the extent of tribal divisions. In the Porgera mine case the workforce is a collection of many diverse groups who are indeed Papua New Guineans. In common with the African copperbelt, PNG tribal miners of the same tribal origin tend to socialise and interact well than with others with whom they share little affinity. However the multiculturalism in PNG is unlike that found in workplaces in countries such as the United States and Australia where the many ethnic groups are mostly immigrants and therefore their attitudes and customs trace back to their countries of origin (Jackson, 1994; O' Mara, 1994). For a harmonious kind of multiculturalism to prosper proactive legislations governing employment matters by governments and innovative management styles have been implemented to cater for the heterogeneous workforce. This has been done in the context of a more modern and sophisticated political and economic environment. But PNG is in the early phase of industrialisation and far from the political tolerance and correctness that has become associated with a multicultural workforce. Perhaps the best analogy is with early 19th century Great Britain where at the new industrial sites, the new workforce was frequently composed of heterogeneous 'ethnic' elements from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and different regions of England (Dellheim, 1985).
The Porgerans have only recently experienced rapid social and economic changes following the establishment of the Porgera gold mine. The development potentially offers Porgerans the choice of an alternative life style which they are embracing eagerly. They show a determination to maximise the opportunities presented by the project and this is visible in their pressure on management for more jobs and business spin-offs. However, their commitment to work varies from being uncommitted and semi-committed to general commitment, as analysed on Kerr et al.'s (1960) continuum of behavioural change. Above all responses by the Porgerans to wage employment emphasise the importance of a continual supply of money now that their once isolated place has become absorbed into the cash economy as a result of mining and associated activities. Repeated mention was made of the necessity, even for villagers, to have more and more money. Because this is Porgeran workers' first taste of formal employment, it is not surprising to see some problems with productivity. The problems are not unique to the Porgerans as Kerr et al. (1960) stated that these are the universal responses of workers as they try to embrace a new form of work system and gradually abandon their old lifestyles. Thus absenteeism, disciplinary problems and labour turnover continue to characterise the Porgeran workforce. The different commitment shown by Porgerans in their work performance have allowed other workers and expatriates to form negative stereotypes of Porgerans. In contrast, Porgerans also have maintained traditional folklore views of other workers, which emphasise negative stereotypes. For example, Porgerans have negative opinions of Engan workers, despite them coming from the same province. PJV's strong motivation and commitment to involving local Porgerans in the mine and community projects through a form of ethnic affirmative action for Porgerans has not promoted multiculturalism nor led to the consolidation of a unified PNG nationality beyond tribal groupings. However, the analogy with early industrialising Great Britain is again useful here. Although a unified 'British' nationality was promoted in late Georgian England, it enjoyed only moderate success in 'detribalising' groups on the Celtic fringes in less industrialised areas of the British Isles who remained wedded to ethnic and regional separation (Dellheim, 1985). Although the 'logic of industrialism' leads towards a standardisation of culture, often through the dominance of an elite group, in PNG mining pre-industrial regional and ethnic identity continues to shape attitudes to work and the structure of employment.
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