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99 retrenched workers ‘treated unfairly’

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

The Contractors and General Workers’ Trade Union has challenged a decision by Abel’s Brickforce Ltd to retrench 99 fortnightly paid workers.

Union president-general, Aynsley Matthews, said the affected workers were being treated unfairly, as many of them have worked at the company for over three decades.

The company is located at Longdenville, Chaguanas.

The trade union was informed of the move by a letter signed by managing director Victor Cooper and dated February 3.

The letter stated tunnel kilns TK1 and TK2 have come to the end of their useful lives and, as a result, the company was compelled to rationalise its operations at the clay division, which will result in significant surplus labour.

The company stated 99 workers were identified for retrenchment.

“The selection of these workers will be guided by principle of Last-In-First-Out (LIFO), all other things being equal,” the letter stated.

Matthews said the union was disappointed so many workers were affected by the company’s restructure.

He said the union was seeking an urgent meeting with management to discuss the move.

“The last meeting ended abruptly and this morning’s meeting was cancelled by the company,” he said.

Matthews said the workers want clarification on why they were being retrenched after so many years of dedication and commitment.

He said National Trade Union Centre head Michael Annisette and members of the executive have pledged their support on the issue.

“We are very concerned and upset that (the company) has decided to postpone the meeting for today, knowing the importance of the meeting,” he said.

Matthews said the workers on the breadline live in the Chaguanas district near the factory.

“The workers are from the surrounding villages and the lay-offs are going to affect the community. These people have been there for 30, some 40 years. And it is not just them affected, it is their spouses and children too,” he said.

Matthews has also called for the intervention of the Member of Parliament for Chaguanas East, Stephen Cadiz.

“These people are seeking the MP’s intervention to see if anything can be done politically,” he said.

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