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posted 15 Mar 2016, 13:13 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Mar 2016, 13:35 ]

OAS Construtora, the Brazilian company responsible for building the stalled Point Fortin highway, has offered to terminate its 850 bimonthly workforce and pay them all outstanding wages and their severance and other termination benefits. Wages have not been paid for several fortnights. 

This offer was made in a letter to the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU), (which has de facto recognition), dated March 11th.

For the past few days OAS workers have been blocking the company's gates at Golconda, demanding that they be paid all their entitlements and released from their employment contracts, because it is clear to the workers that the highway construction is in limbo. They have also been preventing contractors from removing equipment from the compound. This has often led to stand offs with contractor goons and with the state police.

The company and the OWTU were due to resume discussions  on 2016/03/14, but reports coming to this website suggest that the workers have dismantled the camp in anticipation that at the meeting the t's would have been crossed and the i's dotted but the meeting has not taken place This discussion was supposed to revolve around the company's proposal which the workers were hoping would have brought this impasse to a satisfactory conclusion. 

This remains to be seen because without a memorandum of agreement being in place and workers receiving individual letters detailing their entitlements and the procedure for accessing their monies, the dismantling of the camp can be seen as premature and may allow the company to disperse its equipment and sneak out of the country as many foreign companies before them have done without the workers receiving their full entitlements.

There is a very, very important lesson to be learnt here from the determination and heroism of the workers who took part in the "Battle of Golconda' on Saturday night, 12/03/2016. The night before a company KALLO Co Ltd (Jack Warner is that you?) had parked long bed trucks outside the workers camp at the head office in Golconda, on the outskirts of San Fernando in an effort to remove equipment and trucks using false documents.

It failed and the workers literally chased them away. They came back again on Saturday night with more false documents and a young female security officer heroically chased them away for the same reasons. She was applauded by the workers. All this was being recorded by the National Workers Union and another South based media house.

A phalanx of armed policemen and some security guards charged the gate again and were rebuffed by the workers. A pitched scuffle lasting about 10 minutes followed with the workers blocking the gate amidst threats and intimidatory tactics by the police and a long bed truck attempting to drive through the workers and enter the compound. The workers kept calling on the lone 'media' present 'to capture this'. One worker took a chair and sat on it directly in front of the truck.

When the police realised that the workers were not backing down: "All yuh go have to shoot we here tonight…” and the security officers were standing their ground even in the face of armed police with false papers: "We have our company's interest to protect...” The cohort of officers backed down and left the workers to their own devices. All hail the fighting spirit of the working class!

It would be a tragedy of monumental proportions that after waging such heroic struggles, the workers end up suffering because they left the battlefield without ensuring that their leaders signed an armistice which reflects the true state of the forces on the ground.

Video of the battle 

YouTube Video