Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Trouble at La Brea plant construction site

...some workers take protest action

Workers gather at the CGCL planT, La Brea,this morning. -Photo: TREVOR WATSON

PROTEST action outside the Caribbean Gas Chemical Limited (CGCL) Mitsubishi Plant in La Brea on Wednesday, was taken by a small number of misguided individuals who are not supported by the majority of workers, says the La Brea Member of Parliament Nicole Olivierre.

Olivierre said it was unfortunate the workers took to protesting for higher wages given the present economic conditions.

The Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries also reminded the workers that frequent industrial action is what bpTT cited last year as one of the reasons for not fabricating the Angelin offshore platform in La Brea.

She urged protesters to cease such actions.

Ollivere said: “It is unfortunate that workers would choose to protest for higher wages in this present environment where jobs are scarce and the energy sector is facing a very difficult period of low productions and moderate prices.

This action by a small number of misguided individuals is not supported by the majority of workers who would prefer to remain on the job to ensure its timely completion.

We should recall that disruptions of this type was one of the factors cited by BPTT in their decision to have the Angelin platform constructed outside of Trinidad.

I would therefore urge the instigators of this unwarranted and unwise work stoppage to be mindful of the damage they are causing to the reputation of the South Western peninsula as a destination for energy sector investment,” Nicole.

 Health and Safety issues

 Workers claimed that the company has failed in addressing a number of health and safety concerns.

One of the injured workers, Joel Celestine spoke to the Express about his injury.

Celestine works as a rigger and while performing his job back in August, came into contact with dirty water on his face, leaving him with an infection.

He said that the company has been paying for his medical conditions.

However, he said his skin is not clearing and the company seems to be “dragging its feet” on the matter.

“I went by doctors and they gave me antibiotics. While using it my skin cleared but after it wore out my skin getting bad again. How long I have to keep this on my face? The doctor confirmed when I first went that it's a skin disease from coming in contact dirty water. They not treating workers safety and health with any kind of importance. So many other people got injured and very little is being done to help them,” he said.

The workers also say they have to work with faulty equipment and machinery, incorrect tools for jobs, working outside their job description with no additional compensation, there are no safety drills, there is insufficient restroom facilities and there is major issue of a rodent infestation at the site.

 Resolution soon

 Corporate Affairs Manager Josieann Richards responded to the protest action taken by the workers.

She stated: “On Tuesday … CGCL was advised by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, its EPC contractor that workers were engaged in protest action which resulted in no construction work taking place on the TMD site at UIE La Brea. The issues articulated include demands for a 5 per cent increase in 2018 rates of pay and HSSE concerns.

The EPC contractor advised CGCL that the protest action continues…MHI and its sub-contractors are engaged in discussions with a view to bringing speedy resolution to legitimate concerns, to enable the resumption of work.”

Caribbean Gas Chemical Limited (CGCL) Methanol and Dimethyl Ether project commenced construction at the Union Industrial Estate in La Brea on August 6, 2016.

The first shipment of equipment specific to the construction of the methanol and DME petrochemical complex was on June 6, of last year.