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posted 4 Jun 2013, 14:16 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 4 Jun 2013, 14:21 ]

Brazilian firm frustrates highway workers!


Four Construtora OAS workers' representatives met with Mr. Peter Collins - IR Consultant - and Management representatives on Wednesday 29 May 2013 to hol
d further discussions on wages. 

The workers presented a document outlining a 20% increase on wages for all categories of workers and other standard benefits (COLA, Fringe, Vacation Pay, Safety Bonus).

The Brazilian Company counter-offered with a 5.5% increase on all classifications subject to the dysfunctional Performance Appraisal System. This latest proposal is nothing different from the Company's 13 May 2013 proposal. They are shuffling the same deck of cards every time they meet with the workers to discuss wages.

NIDCO is silent and so too is Works' Minister, Dr. Surujrattan Rambachan on the issue of starvation/ slavery wages being paid to build the multi-billion dollar highway to Point Fortin.
A request for the Schedule of Classifications under the Freedom of Information Act, (FOI) has been submitted to NIDCO to assess what they approved as acceptable wages at Construtora OAS Ltda.

The workers have been frustrated by the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) as they have not received a full copy of the report arising out of their complaints (while the Company received the report without delay). 'Red tape' demands that they apply under the FOI Act, 1999, which is not only tedious but is not guaranteed.

The workers received a two page letter from the OSHA dated 21 May 2013. The inspector noted "Generally, no imminent danger hazards were identified, and Construtora OAS has taken the necessary steps to remedy justified complaints in a timely manner."
On May 8th 2013, the Company dismissed two (2) single mother employees for allegations of sleeping on the job and for an altercation respectively.
The workers were never given warning notices or suspended as per progressive disciplinary action. The matters have been referred to the Ministry of Labour by the OWTU as the Company has refused to discuss these matters with the Union who legally represent the said workers.

However, four truck drivers received Traffic Violation Tickets on Friday 29th May 2013 for defective tyres and unsecured loads at Southern Main Road, La Romaine and S.S. Erin Road, Philippine (in the vicinity of the home of Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar). 

The tickets range from $750 to $1000 in the name of the respective drivers. The tickets have been submitted to OAS management who have taken some of the trucks off the road for repairs but have not confirmed payment of the tickets. The defective trucks place not only OAS drivers and workers at risk but the general public can be struck by a loose stone or runaway poorly maintained 10-wheeler truck.

Workers will be meeting this week to discuss the way forward. Already set back by persistent rainy weather conditions, the schedule of the Highway will be severely hampered by the current Industrial Relations climate at OAS.

Workers who have been performing above and beyond their pay range to see the highway reach completion will take the sober approach of giving the Company and the current Government of Trinidad and Tobago the volume of labour they have chosen to pay for.