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IN LIMBO FOR FIVE YEARS

posted 5 May 2013, 22:19 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 6 May 2013, 03:55 by Dave Smith ]
For the third time, the government, through Finance Minister, Larry Howai, has promised to launch ATRIUS, the company to be formed on the winding up of CLICO/British American, companies which featured in the massive $25 billion taxpayer bailout of the Duprey Empire and which are now owned by the State.

The company’s announced launch date was originally supposed to have been Jan
uary 1st 2013. It didn’t happen. The other announced launch date was May 1st 2013. It didn’t happen.

This latest promise was made by the Finance Minister to workers of CLICO and British American, members of the Banking Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU), as they staged a picket and candlelight vigil at the Central Bank in downtown Port of Spain on Friday May 3rd 2013.

Approval of the Board of Directors of ATRIUS has been approved, Howai claimed, and would be in place by Monday May 5th 2013. The Board would then begin to proceed with the agreements reached; implement the business plan and put management arrangements in place.

A decision was made one year ago to form the new company and a written commitment was given to the Union to honour severance payments to the more than 300 affected workers.

The picket/vigil was staged to protest the government’s “repeated indecisiveness” in meeting its stated commitment.

In a statement distributed during the picket, the workers described themselves as “silent victims and casualties of the obscene and runaway mismanagement that has been exposed in the Colman Enquiry, and which was presided over by multi-millionaire tycoons Lawrence Duprey and Andre Monteil and their trough-feeding cohorts at CL Financial.”

Because of the takeover action of the State workers have had “a freeze on improvements to their terms and conditions of employment for almost five years. The intervention of the Central Bank, according to th
 
Roxanne Cuffy, Acting President CLICO branch, BIGWU
e workers, “effectively disrupted the Union-Management relationship at both companies giving the Central Bank ultimate power over the determination of terms and conditions of employment of workers.”

Because of the indecisiveness of the government, many workers “have had plans for new jobs, academic and other pursuits scuttled”. They spoke of their “inability to access loans from banks etc. due to the uncertainty of their continued employment.”  According to Acting President of the CLICO branch of BIGWU, Roxanne Cuffy, the workers have been in limbo for five years.

If Minister Howai does not move quickly to defuse the workers’ growing frustration, the consequences political and otherwise, could be most severe. (See video of the workers’ picket here)
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