Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎


posted 23 Nov 2016, 09:47 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 23 Nov 2016, 10:30 ]
In March the Arcelor Mittal Steel Company gave notice that it was closing its Trinidad and Tobago operation citing a slump in the international steel market and summarily throwing hundreds of workers and by extension their families on the bread line WITHOUT severance benefits. The National Workers Union and other media have covered the demonstrations and other forms of protest that the representative body, the Steel Workers Union of Trinidad and Tobago, (SWUTT) have carried out.

SWUTT however has organised its resistance in a new innovative and controversial
Steel workers board creditors meeting in April
way. Moving beyond the traditional forms of protest and resistance the Union announced at a media conference on Monday 21st November that it has sought out and found partners who were willing to replace Arcelor Mittal and keep the steel industry in Trinidad and Tobago viable.

The union’s spokespeople argue that, contrary to suggestions put out by the ruling class, the steel industry is not dying but remains viable. SWUTT has indicated that Arcelor Mittal, having rid itself of all liabilities to the workers, is trying to re-enter the local market through the backdoor by registering as a different entity and purchasing the plant at pepper corn rates.

SWUTT insists that it has conducted due diligence and found reliable, reputable investors willing to invest in a new company in partnership with the workers and the State. Proposals have been presented to the Prime Minister who in turn has called on his Minister of Labour to discuss the issue.

So far there has been no firm commitment from the government to sit down with the steel workers and progress the issue. The workers re-emphasise that a revival of the steel industry will be a much needed boost to a local economy which is grinding to a halt in the industrial sector. It would also relieve the unwarranted suffering of thousands of workers and their dependents, who have no options left given their ages and the state of the labour market.

The steel workers have taken the initiative in preparing a comprehensive document and are treading in a domain traditionally thought of as exclusive to 'financiers, entrepreneurs, economic experts and bankers''.

The steel workers have clearly seen what has happened to BWIA pensioners, ex-Caroni workers, former Telco workers and most recently OAS workers. Time will tell whether their response will add a new chapter to the ongoing labour narrative. This power point document was presented at the media conference.
Gerry Kangalee,
23 Nov 2016, 10:28