Union questions silence on electrical engineer’s death probe

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Rossi Mansingh –

ALMOST one month after the death of electrical engineer Rossi Mansingh, president of the Steel Workers Union (SWUTT) Timothy Bailey is questioning the silence of the investigators into the industrial incident.

Mansingh died on January 22, four days after he was burnt while working at the former Arcelor Mittal Plant, Point Lisas, which is in liquidation status. He died at the San Fernando General Hospital.

Two days after his death, Labour Minister Stephen McClashie confirmed that the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Agency had started an investigation into the tragic incident.

McClashie did not return calls of messages on Thursday for an update.

Bailey said because Arcelor Mittal was closed, the union had no locus standi to represent their former worker or be part of the investigation.

Bailey complained that no information on the circumstances surrounding Mansingh’s death had been forthcoming from authorities.

“They remain tight-lipped,” he said of the liquidator and the Ministry of Labour, especially the OSH Agency.

“We definitely want to know what transpired to cause our brother to die. We would want to know if normal practices were overlooked to cause his death.”

Bailey believes something contrary to normal operating practices took place to cause the accident.

“He was a human being, a young, intelligent guy who lost his life. We want to know what caused that,” Bailey said of Mansingh.

“If there was a union at the plant, we would have already been updated.”

Bailey offered ready support for Mansingh’s family should they require the union’s help.

“We don’t want to overstep our boundaries.”

Bailey earlier remarked that while people claimed unions were obstructionist, their absence at places where industrial accidents, resulting in fatalities took place, must be noted.

He referenced the Paria tragedy in which four divers lost their lives and an incident at NiQuan at which Allanlane Ramkissoon died.

Bailey said he trusted the OSH Agency would do what it had to under the law, as the union could not legally intervene.

“A proper investigation must take place. And if coming out of the findings, anyone is culpable, then we expect they will prosecute the matter.

“It does not mean that it will bring back our brother to life, but it could be a deterrent for similar occurrences in the future.”

Both Bailey and the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) said the incident was very concerning, especially in light of the release of the Paria commission of enquiry report in which divers Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jr, Rishi Nagassar and Yusuf Henry, lost their lives.

The report has recommended corporate manslaughter charges be laid. That matter is now in the hands of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard.

Reports indicate the OSH Agency has been tasked with investigations into 40 industrial-related deaths over the period 2021 to December 2023. The majority of accidents have been in the quarrying and mining industry, with the Couva district recording ten deaths, the highest number of all districts. Port of Spain came a close second with eight.

Mansingh of Fyzabad, would have turned 40 in November. He was recently married to his soul mate, Parvani.

At his funeral held at the Fyzabad Presbyterian Church, he was described as a perfect son, perfect husband, and as a good role model.

Mansingh’s cousin said losing him did not just break their hearts, but shattered their souls. She said he was robbed of his life and stolen from them.

Mansingh’s friend, Jason Daniel, said he was born into a life of love, and if love could have saved him while he lay on his hospital bed, fighting to survive, he would have still been alive.