An unsung hero not many people hear and know about. But he is one of those responsible for UPNG’s fight against the dual salary structure of the entire public service and many private firms operating in Papua New Guinea.
He’s known simply as Joe Mangi. He comes from a region of the country, the mid Waghi Valley, where people carry Toyota land cruisers on their shoulders over boggy and muddy patches of roads and place them on dry soil for easy driving instead of the other way around…
In the 1980s and 1990s Joe Mangi, along with the other members of the National Academic Staff Union, led the UPNG administration into agreeing to certain terms and conditions currently dictated by the Salary Monitoring Committee – that all should get equal pay for the same amount of work, such as the expatriates and the nationals. He won his case as the then President of NASA, but he would be displaced, obviously, for political reasons.
Today, public servants right across the board and across the country enjoy some of the benefits of what Joe and his colleagues had fought for – DMA, field and risk allowances, accommodation allowances, the gagging 7.5% phenomenon, anything to get closer to bridging the gap… The fight continues. The dual salary system still exists. But those greedy scavengers within the public service itself know how to manipulate the system to fatten themselves up as individuals while the rest of the entire workforce suffers. And will continue to suffer so.
One fine day, we will all receive equal pay for the same amount of work we do. But for the moment my expatriate colleague gets thrice more than what I get even though we do the same amount of work. Come Christmas holidays and he travels in style to Vienna, to Paris, to Dubai, to Tokyo, to Toronto and Beijing or Cairo. UPNG pays all of that. And here I am, stuck in this little hole as always, not knowing where the next dough will come from for me to feed my family….
We need only thank people like Joe Mangi for taking that initial step successfully in fighting for equal pay for the same amount of work done. A long time ago, it was the women predominantly who suffered that terrible economic fate. Today, we are all in the same boat, wherever we are, in whatever country we find ourselves in...
...and here's the funny part
A lone traveller, a kind of globe trotter, and a very, very rich one at that, comes to the Waigani Campus one day and in her capacity as academic and researcher asks for board and lodging. She is granted a room which she shares with a 4th year student in Literature. Next, she asks if she can enroll for the basic law degree, a program that runs for 4 or 5 years. UPNG checks her credentials and decides to reject her application on the grounds that she already has a PhD degree in another area. Her English is perfect, her Spanish pretty much the same and her Japanese just as good. She appeals. UPNG still says no. Her roommate says, “Let’s go see the old villager. May be he can help.” But even the old villager’s advice to the influential hierarchy goes unheeded. So everybody gives up. And that’s that. End of the story.
Then the literature student goes to the old villager again and says, “Sir, I would like to publish a book. It’s a kind of tri-lingual affair. Would you be able to help?”
“Gladly,” said the old villager, “if that is the last straw in our so-called fruitless endeavors. Now I must wonder what UPNG was thinking when it rejected your roommate’s application for a law degree.”
Today, the book is published. Its contents appear in three languages: English, Tok Pisin and Spanish (Argentinian). It enjoys a good number of hits around the world. But that is the way of internet publications.
As for our collaborator on the book: she is happily married to a fine young man and is indeed happy in her home of origin, Japan. Ah me, oh my… if only UPNG could have some kind of foresight, even hindsight… how much that basic law degree would mean to the world, especially if it came from UPNG, the premier university in the Pacific!