Workers down tools following breakdown in wage talks

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday February 29, 2012 – Workers at the Trinidad Cement Limited walked off the job on Tuesday following a break down in wage talks.

The union is seeking a 16 per cent wage increase, and is unwilling to settle for anything below double digit figures. They are also negotiating for an improved package for casual workers. However, the company has put a 6.5 per cent increase offer on the table over a three year period.

Vice president of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, Mr. Carlton Gibson served the notices on the cement company’s management and the Trinidad Packaging Limited, following which 600 workers were instructed to start strike action immediately.

This action forced the closure of the plant for the remainder of the day, and delivery trucks being turned away.

However, Mr. Gibson expressed concerns over what will happen to the construction industry as a result of the action, stating that it was hoped management would ensure there was a decent settlement.

Noting that cement had a shelf life, the vice president expressed hope that the company’s management would put the country’s interest first before there was a likely shortage, as the strike was expected to go on for 90 days.

However, he said the union was still open to meet during the strike to continue discussions and find a resolution to the matter in the interest of everyone.

As it relates to casual workers, Mr. Gibson said there were a number of vacancies which still had to be filled, and their general treatment improved.

Meanwhile, reports today indicate that the strike has already begun to affect hardware dealers as there is already a limited supply. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)