OWTU: TCL must honour collective agreement

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: OWTU president Ancel Roget, second from left, with TCL workers at a protest outside the company’s Claxton Bay plant on September 2, 2022. – Lincoln Holder

Yet again, frustrated retirees and retrenched workers protested and demanded that Trinidad Cement Ltd and the company’s majority shareholder, Mexican cement company Cemex pay outstanding money owed to them.

The latest protest took place on Monday morning at TCL’s entrance gates at the Southern Main Road in Claxton Bay.

Speaking on behalf of the former workers, the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) President General Ancel Roget “demanded” that Cemex be respectful.

The payment covers three collective bargaining periods, 2015-2018, 2018 -2021, and 2021-2024.

He said the money owed included the cost of living allowance (COLA), gain sharing and back pay, all based on clauses in the collective agreement.

“They are refusing to make those payments. We are not talking about new money. We are talking about money that was already earned by people who would have exited the company on the basis of retirement. Retirees are being denied their money,” Roget said.

“We are demanding that Cemex be respectful and pay those retirees who contributed to the profitability of the company during their working years.

Roget said other outstanding issues related to the pension and medical plans and health and safety. He accused Cemex’s management of unilaterally removing $100 million from the pension plan, jeopardising its viability.

The union leader repeatedly criticised “those disrespectful Cemex people” accusing them of violating local laws.

Roget added, “It seems Cemex’s management has an agenda of their own and doing what they please. That cannot be allowed to continue as it impacts the lives of those who worked and those still working.

“We call on Cemex management to respect our sovereignty, respect TT, respect our laws, respect our people and to ensure our collective agreements are honoured. Their actions are supported by some local misfits who ought to know better and should have been advising them.”

“We do not want confrontation. We want clarity. We want production. But we also want justice. We want what is due to those who produced. Cement is selling in TT and abroad, and that cement can only be manufactured on the backs and shoulders and blood, sweat, and tears of workers who made that possible.”

Roget also accused the company of attempting to hold the union and workers to ransom.

Over the past few months, the workers have staged similar protests.

Newsday’s calls to TCL for comment have been unsuccessful.