Scrap-iron workers slam Government, UNC, dealers

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Scrap iron worker, Daniel Joseph, in an interview on Thursday speaks with media while distancing himself and fellow workers from the Trinidad & Tobago Scrap Iron Dealers Association, blasts the government on the decision to implement a 6-month ban on export to the industry. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

SCRAP-iron workers in Claxton Bay have accused the Government, Opposition and the Scrap Iron Dealers Association of doing nothing to help them with scrap-iron exports being banned for six months,

They did so after meeting with Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) political leader David Abdulah at Temple Street, Claxton Bay on Thursday.

At different places along the road were remnants of tree branches, tyres and scrap iron which were used to block it, in protest against the industry’s closure.

Daniel Joseph said, “I have been working scrap iron for the last eight years of my life.” Joseph has four children and he does not know how he can afford to buy schoolbooks for them now.

“People have rent to pay. The landlord doesn’t want to know how (they will get their rent) in the next six months. They want us out their place.”

Scrap iron workers in Claxton Bay, on Thursday, kept service men and women busy as they protested the government’s decision on the 6-month ban of scrap iron. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

Looking at the other people around him, Joseph said the industry employs many young people.

“The devil finds work for idle hands.

“We are no criminals. We are coming out here, trying to get back an honest dollar. To try and get back out there and work hard.

“This is our way of life. This is what we know about. Hungry people is angry people.”

He slammed Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee for not helping them.

“He hasn’t reached here yet – driving a $2.5 million vehicle, and we’re hungry out here and he can’t reach here yet.”

Lee was questioned by police last week in relation to the purchase of a Mercedes Benz valued at $2.3 million which attracted a $1.4 million tax exemption.

It was alleged that Lee is not using the car and a party financier may have benefited. Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar defended Lee on this matter.

Scrap iron worker Daniel Joseph, in an interview on Thursday speaks while distancing himself and fellow workers from the Trinidad & Tobago Scrap Iron Dealers Association. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

Keevon Perry said the association was not helping them.

“They have not reached here. So who is helping out us, the people?”

Perry said he wa the breadwinner in his house.

“Without this job, there is nothing for us. No one is hiring us.”

Perry claimed the association was only seeing about itself and not its workers.

Devon Hayde said many scrap-iron workers knew nothing about a meeting held between the association, Lee and UNC MPs Rudranath Indarsingh and Dinesh Rambally at Lee’s constituency office on Wednesday.

“They went in one room and they had a discussion. We were out here in the rain and we got nothing from it.”

In a statement on Thursday, Lee confirmed meeting with the association and called for Government to reopen the industry.

Hayde said, “Right now, we are appealing that we need our work back because we don’t have time any more.”

Asked what would happen if the ban is not lifted, Hayde replied, “We will have to carry it (protest) further and more devious.”

He added it may need the Prime Minister’s intervention to resolve the matter.

“If we can’t eat, none of all you can eat.”

Hayde said Claxton Bay is the hub of the scrap-iron industry.

“In the morning, you can see 107 (scrap-iron) vehicles leave Claxton Bay to work the whole of TT.”

He declared it is not right to now to make 100-plus workers and their families suffer by closing the industry.

“You have to give us something right now, because it (protests) would not stop.”

Earlier in the day, police and fire officers cleared debris along the Southern Main Road in Claxton Bay after another group of residents protested the export ban. They vowed to continue their protests unless Dr Rowley announced the industry’s reopening.