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At a pre-trial hearing on Monday 19th October 2009, the Industrial Court heard complaints from the National Workers Union concerning what the Union claims is an illegal lock-out followed by the dismissal of hundreds of workers. dates for further hearing were carded for January 2010 and March 2010.

Re-enforcing their dissatisfaction with the actions of the Company, E. Pihl and Sons, over 30 workers picketed the Court with placards, clapping and singing "We Shall Overcome"

The Union had originally filed the Industrial Relations Offence on 28th September on behalf of the more than 350 workers employed by the Danish company to construct the Trinidad Generation Unlimited 720 megawatt power plant at Union Village, La Brea.

The construction of the power plant began in January 2009 and after months of growing conflict between workers and management over the failure to deal with issues of concern, workers began to take protest action. The workers were locked out and received dismissal notices through the mail on September 18th. The application seeks to have the dismissals overturned. 

Central to the workers' dissatisfaction were:

  • The failure of the company to abide by the provisions of the OSHA Act and not subject workers to dangerous and harmful working conditions.
  • Discrimination against female workers.
  • The need for regularising the basis on which the Fringe is paid
  • The need for strict adherence to the procedures involved in deducting and remitting National Insurance premiums 
  • The regularisation of overtime and Saturday work
  • Workers’ grievances must be dealt with in good faith and the workers’ representatives must be paid due respect by management.

PIHL Workers at la Brae

At a meeting of the workers' representatives, the MP for the area and the management of the company on September 17th, management told workers they would be re-hired under new contracts, because dismissal notices had already been mailed out. Workers have not been given the opportunity to review and discuss the contract among themselves, but are expected to sign them "cat in bag".

Reports are that the new contracts contain inferior provisions to those which the workers enjoyed and which include pay cuts and that new workers are being hired to replace the original workers including gundoleros.

Pihl is the principal contractor on the Power plant project which is an integral part of the much-maligned and struggled-against Alutrint smelter project, the building of which was legally blocked by anti-smelter activists.

The natural gas-fired power plant, which is 90% owned by the government is budgeted to cost US $708 million of which US$400 million have already been expended The power plant is scheduled to be completed in July 2011. There is no recognised majority union representiing the workers.