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Bus with workers blocked

By Stories by Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

STRIKING Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) Group workers blocked the company's main gate in Claxton Bay yesterday, after hearing talk that a shuttle service was sneaking "scab labour" to the factory.

The protesting workers formed a circle outside the gates, clapping and chanting the union song, and succeeded in stopping the bus, which pulled into a parking lot.

The passengers walked onto the plant compound, through a side gate.

On Monday, the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) served strike notices to TCL and its subsidiary, Trinidad Packaging Ltd, after a breakdown in wage negotiations.

The company's 600 workers were instructed to clear their desks and evacuate the compound immediately. Operations at TCL's facilities in Mayo were also shut down.

OWTU branch president, Lawrence

Renaud, said, "The shuttle was carrying corporate workers into the plant. They can go in because they are not unionised. But there were also a few of our workers sneaking in with the shuttle.

"The shuttle was not allowed to go in, so it went into the car park and the workers walked into the compound. I warned the protesting workers to refrain from jeering and be focused on what we were doing."

Renaud said the workers entering the facility yesterday were not trained in plant operation.

"Therefore, we don't feel threatened. These workers cannot operate the plants to produce cement," he said.

However, Michelle Langton, TCL Group public relations manager, dismissed the reports, saying no scab labour was taken into the company.

"I can refute that. There is absolutely no truth to that," she said.

Langton said there have been no further talks between management and the union on outstanding wage negotiations.

A team of police officers visited the camp site set up outside the company's gates yesterday.

Carlton Gibson, OWTU vice president, said the officers were doing routine checks and did not intervene in the strike.

"The police came and did not interfere with the workers. I heard that management attempted to get in scab labour and it was met with resistance. This is a legitimate strike and if a contractor attempts to break the strike we would not allow that to happen. We have to be strong," he said.

"We are running a disciplined camp. We are out there protecting our property, the company. And we would not tolerate strike breakers," he said.

Gibson said there has been no communication from management and workers were prepared to continue the strike for the 90-day duration.

The workers are keeping vigil at the strike camp on a three-shift rotation .

Delivery trucks were turned away, and no cement was loaded to distribute to customers.

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