All operations at Trinidad Cement Company have shut down as the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) began strike action yesterday after wage talks collapsed.
The union has rejected the company’s proposal of 6.5 per cent offer for over a three year period, and is seeking a 16 per cent wage increase. The period being negotiated is 2009 to 2011.
The Trinidad Express reported Carlton Gibson, vice president of OWTU as saying that the union would not settle for a package below double digit figures. The union is also negotiating an improved package for casual workers.
Gibson said the TCL strike is expected to continue for 90 days. “But nothing prevents parties from meeting during the strike to continue discussions to bring a resolution to this issue,” he added.
He noted if the matter remained unresolved after 90 days, the union will go to the industrial court for final determination. Gibson said: “Our concern is what will happen to the construction industry. We thought management would have understood and ensure that there is a decent settlement. Cement has a shelf life and I do not know they can stock cement for any length of time. I am sure that within one week there will be a severe shortage of cement in Trinidad and Tobago. I hope TCL is a reasonable and sensible management and they put country’s interest before personal interest.”