The workers have been on strike since February 27th. The branch bulletin CONCRETE REALITY has been published by the branch for approximately thirty five years.
OILFIELDS WORKERS’ TRADE UNION
Published by the Trinidad Cement Limited Branch – March 2012 (1)
McLeod: TCL Strike No Threat to National Interest
Published: Guardian Media
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
“Labour Minister, Errol McLeod, has declined to apply to the Industrial Court for an ex parte injunction, which could have the effect of stopping the TCL strike from continuing. In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Labour referred to Section 65 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, which allows the Minister of Labour to apply to the Industrial Court for an ex parte injunction to end industrial action, if “the minister considers that the national interest if threatened or affected.”
According to the statement: “In considering his actions under Section 65(1), the Minister must take into consideration the interest of all concerned including: (1) whether the prevailing circumstances provide justifiable reasons for interfering in the free collective bargaining process as permitted by law and; (2) whether the impact of the industrial action can provide the Minister with sufficient grounds to persuade the Industrial Court to grant an ex-parte injunction on the grounds that the national interest is indeed threatened.”
While, the statement said, the minister is deeply concerned with the two reported acts of violence and the reports of hoarding and profiteering by some retailers of cement, “these factors, however undesirable, do not by themselves constitute a threat to the national interest.” According to the minister, TCL’s statements on its importation of cement from its regional subsidiaries and its resumption of production “provide assurance that there is sufficient product available to prevent any major disruption of the construction sector.”
In the circumstances, the minister said, he does not consider that the prevailing factors provide him with persuasive arguments to convince the Industrial Court that the national interest is being threatened by the TCL/OWTU industrial action, at this time. McLeod assured that he would continue to pursue all avenues available to promote a settlement of this dispute and that part of that approach may involve treating discussions “discreetly,” “confidentially and at times, outside of the public glare.”
MANAGEMENT THREATENS COMPANY’S SURVIVAL
The Minister of Labour is correct, TCL GM boast of cement importation and loading of bulk cement for all the bulk users - they say this is being victorious and triumphant over their striking workers. Terrorizing their workers is considered a victory for them - the same workers they have to depend on to create the wealth they have been misusing and abusing. Managers bringing in scabs and pipers, one manager was seen bringin
g in people laying on the back seat of his CRV scabs under a blanket, In the back of containers, jumping the back fence, hiring maxis and shuttle to forcefully intimidate workers to get on board to be brought to the workplace – who is the terrorist? Workers are afraid to go against the company or even speak out publicly for fear of victimization.
The caring company seems to forget the damage they have done to the environment in the community at Mayo and Claxton Bay, so they have
They took off the lights in the car park to prevent workers from having lights in the camp, they rented about 50 metal barricade to block off the public thoroughfare (the train line not their property) from workers and visitors who wishes to park, their terror is managed by highly paid private security and TTPS officers, the HR manager physically abused a worker outside TCL entrance in full glare of the police who just warned him without laying a charge.
One of their scabs called the Local Branch President in the middle of the night threatening to wage war on him; the same scab sent similar threats on FaceBook to another worker (matter reported to the police). Imagine TCL crying wolf when it is they who are provoking workers in a very calculated way. It is TCL who went on to serve Lock-out Notice rather than get the striking workers back on the job by settling negotiations.
The survival of the Company is not being threatened by the strike; it has been under threat now for years in a very deliberate way. The OWTU Local Branch has been speaking out at different forums and eventually under pressure the Company agreed to the setting up of a joint committee to look at areas of waste and mismanagement.
After a couple of meetings they disbanded the committee when certain things were being revealed. The OWTU Local Branch has been lobbying the Company to establish a Plant Wide Risk Assessment Policy which is a legal requirement in the industry; they finally got this committee on the way albeit it is constantly being met with obstacles in its execution due to the GM’s anti-union behavior.
TCL the company has been making profits all along, the concerned capitalists and big share holders should be asking, what the CEO did with the TCL profits? Instead they are asking why the workers are struggling for their piece of the pie. TCL workers are physically exposed to harsh and unsafe conditions of work; this type of work must receive proper compensation.
WORKERS HEALTH AND SAFETY UNDER THREAT
TCL workers are at the higher end of the wage and salary bracket similarly to Petrotrin workers because of the environmental conditions and the types of illnesses associated with cement dust inhalation such as lung function impairment, chronic obstructive lung disease, restrictive lung disease, pneumoconiosis and carcinoma of the lungs, stomach and colon.
Other studies have shown that cement dust may enter into the systemic circulation and thereby reach essentially all the organs of the body and affects the different tissues including heart, liver, spleen, bone, muscles and hairs and ultimately affecting their micro-structure and physiological performance.
Added to that is the water workers use to wash-up is a shade of rust brown because the water lines are heavily corroded and at present finances do not permit for the replacement of these lines, would be managers excuse. However management were able to paint over the main administrative building last year at a cost of approximately $1,000,000.00 and purchase new imported furniture for the company’s swimming pool at a cost of close to $750,000.00.
Back to the point of the conditions that workers subject themselves to on a daily basis. Other than cement dust there is slurry (limestone) dust which falls on employees’ vehicles almost weekly which corrodes the paint of the vehicle, so other than cement dust we have to deal with limestone dust inhalation which can cause respiratory tract, irritation/inflammation.
Exposure may cause coughing and sneezing. Large amounts may cause chemical pneumonitis. The kiln heats up to temperatures of over between 900°C and 1500°C so add heat exposure to your list of unsafe conditions. These are just a few of the environmentally unfriendly circumstances workers are subjected to on a daily basis.
What is the motivation for TCL workers? A power play where the CEO (anti-union/anti-worker) using millions of dollars to pull out all the stops to bring down the Trade Union and be proclaimed a national hero by the Capitalist, rather than pay shareholders and workers their just due.
MANAGERS IN THE LAP OF LUXURY
The workers of TCL have up to this point been under represented to say the least by the media for reasons which will be later discussed but to begin the disparity in salaries should be our focus especially since the workers remuneration packages were broadcast all over the media.
First of all there are eleven managers at TCL with four levels: the general manager being at the highest level followed by the operations manager then middle managers such as human resource, engineering services, production, quarry etc. followed by lower management which is the Health, Safety and Environment manager, that should give one an idea of how health and safety are regarded within this organisation in terms of priority, at present there is an excess of three managers.
Managers annual bonuses ranges from $150,000.00 to $400,000.00 annually, their salaries are between $40,000.00 and $60,000.00 per month they have complained that they have not had an increase in salary for the past four or five years however their benefits such as car allowance has increased from $300,000.00 to $500,000.00 per year, entertainment is $50,000.00 per year.
They also have 100% medical, dental and optical coverage, credit card facility, housing allowance, gasoline and diesel are also credited to TCL, not to mention their vehicle is being maintained at TCL’s cost and finally, vehicles are fully refurbished and sold to them for a meagre book value so that they can now sell it at the market value to the public, fully furnished and stocked kitchen and bar at an aristocratic Mayaro beach house outfitted with 24-hour security for them and their families and friends to rest and relax, well stocked bar and swimming pool on TCL’s compound for friends and families.
This is just to highlight a few of managers’ benefits. The Managers salaries at the Corporate Office takes on a whole next level, all paid by the Trinidad Cement Company.
DISCRIM INATION AGAINST PRODUCERS
Confidential secretaries was one of the bargaining units singled out by management whose remuneration package was highlighted in the media, to begin with there are only three in the whole of TCL, with combined work experience of over seventy years with all of them on the verge of retirement and experience with this management says that when that time comes those vacancies may either not be filled or renamed the position placing it in a lower bracket.
Is the Corporate Office a legal entity??? The Corporate Office has grown in leaps and bounds from about six employees to about 66 operated and managed with 100% TCL funding since the other subsidiaries cannot afford their % contributions.
TCL workers are churning out the profits in adverse conditions and faulty, defective and obsolete equipment and must receive the returns on their labour - they have to strike and be beaten and manhandled by private security workers and government police hired by the CEO to be fairly compensated, but in the eyes of the Capitalist the worker is wrong and management is right.
From 2009 to 2011, TCL the Company made over $300,000,000.00 in profits but the workers are denied their benefits for the period in question. TCL workers do not share in Group Profits but is pressured into sharing in Group’s loss. The 3-years negotiating period has expired and not one cent out of these profits were paid to the workers of TCL - WHERE THE MONEY GONE??? - But they are now blaming their mismanagement on the downturn in the economy - this is their alibi.
Vacancies are being filled in the Corporate Office and at Management level where three persons are doing one job, but at the shop floor level no vacancies are being filled - one person is doing three persons job at the risk of life and limb.
ONE UNION – ONE STRUGGLE
LONG LIVE THE WORKING CLASS
LONG LIVE THE OWTU IN DEFENCE OF WORKERS
THOSE WHO LABOUR MUST HOLD THE REINS OF POWER!