Trinidad Manufacturers call for Labour ministry intervention in TCL dispute
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, Thursday, March 8, 2012 - The Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) are warning of serious economic consequences to the country as the strike at the Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) goes into its second week.
The TTMA has called for an end to the strike by workers at and the subsequent lockout action initiated by the company. Declaring the strike action as “one of national importance.”
And, in a statement issued, the manufacturing body said it requires the “urgent intervention” of the Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development.
“The association wrote to the ministers of Labour, Trade, Works and Housing within days of the union’s announcement of their intention to strike, seeking their intervention in the ongoing dispute, which has now evidently reached a stalemate. “The TTMA is urging both sides to return to the bargaining table and resume negotiations, in order to come to a swift resolution of this impasse,” the TTMA said in a statement.
The TTMA said TCL is not only a valued member, but also a vital component of this country’s non-energy manufacturing and construction sectors. “TCL contributes to all aspects of the economy: employment, economic value added, and, ultimately, gross domestic product. Prolonged industrial action at the company will therefore have deep and wide impact on this country’s economy,” said the TTMA in a statement.
“The association notes that the work stoppage at the company’s Claxton Bay and Mayo facilities is crippling the operations of many of its members operating in the construction sector, and in construction-related activities.” TCL’s products are inputs into the processes of many other companies such as Trinidad Aggregate Products, Alston’s Building Enterprises Ltd, Coosal’s Construction, Specialist Chemicals Ltd, Precast Concrete Services Ltd, Bonsal Caribbean and Pres-T-Con Ltd, which employ thousands of persons.
“As the strike continues for a ninth day, several of these companies are now facing a complete shutdown of operations as supplies of cement run low. “Further, the industrial action at TCL will be felt throughout the economy of T&T, as several Government-led projects are at risk of delays, cost overruns and job losses,” read the statement. The TTMA noted that the construction sector has yet to fully recover from the debilitating effect of the global recession, and is working towards achieving the high levels of growth experienced prior to its onset in 2009.
“According to the Central Bank’s latest economic bulletin, the construction sector recorded moderate growth in late 2011, for the first time since early 2010,” the statement ended. Meanwhile, in a statement on Monday, the Ministry of Labour said that four conciliation meetings were held at the ministry’s San Fernando offices in February. The ministry said after the fourth meeting, Oilfields Workers Trade Union was invited to sign an extension of time under Section 55 (2)of the Industrial Relations Act Chapter 88:01, to facilitate further conciliation in the trade dispute.
According to the ministry: “It is to be noted that Parties in a dispute of this nature have the right to take Industrial Action, however, once such action has commenced, any further intervention by the Minister of Labour, must be at the request of both Parties (ie TCL and OWTU) and with the clear understanding of their willingness to exercise the flexibility and compromise that could bring about a resolution of the dispute in question.”