Vincent Cabrera, head of the Banking, Insurance and General Insurance Workers' Union (BIGWU), yesterday demanded that Algico up the nine per cent offer currently on the negotiation table.
The workers, chanting "double digits", gathered at Algico's office at St Vincent Street, Port of Spain, and staged a midday protest to highlight the "insult". "The issue is really salaries. The company is stuck at nine per cent and we know the company could afford more," he said.
Cabrera said the company deliberately stalled at nine per cent because the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) settled for that figure at Petrotrin, and later at National Petroleum.
"Instead of a five per cent, there is a nine per cent cap. But they need to understand that with free, collective bargaining, one size does not fit all," Cabrera said.
He said each company must settle according to its particular circumstances and what it can afford. "This company is making money. They have people lining up, begging to buy them, because locally they making money."
"Every dollar we negotiate for these workers is another dollar that will be circulating in the economy," he said.
He said although they were still in negotiations, the talks were deteriorating and it could end up before the Minister of Labour.
While Cabrera was unwilling to accept the same nine per cent as the OWTU, he is still following the template that union set out. He said the talks with Algico were failing and expected the matter to be before the Labour Minister soon.
"When it gets to that point, we will be in a position to serve legal strike notice on the company," he said. That strike action could last for 90 days.