Friday, March 26, 2004

T&T: Bechtel's playing hardball

Citing new concerns of a planned shutdown of the ALNG train IV project by main contractor, Bechtel, workers from the Point Fortin plant pitched camp in Port-of-Spain yesterday hoping to get a better hearing from the central Government.

The workers assembled at City Gate, then marched through the streets all the way to Whitehall where Cabinet was holding its weekly meeting.

Several trade union leaders joined in the march to show of solidarity against what they saw as an attack on the labour movement.

Among those marching were NUGFW president Robert Giuseppi, TTUTA president Trevor Oliver; and BIGWU president Vincent Cabrera.

"Endentured slavery done, pass money," and "Tun yuh tongue, Manning‚" screamed the placards as workers, clad in red, made their way through Port-of-Spain.

The labour cry "We shall overcome" rose above the usual city din, drawing curious spectators from offices and stores.

Bechtel had initially agreed to pay the higher wages being demanded but then rescinded that decision after receiving instructions from the Prime Minister, said Ernest Thompson, leader of the striking workers.

He said Bechtel was now hatching a plan to send home all the workers and pull out of the ALNG train IV project.
Then this:
NUGFW's Giuseppi called for fairer distribution of the wealth and resources of the country.

"Let the people who work control the majority of the wealth," he said.
That distribution doesn't come through unions, Giuseppi, it comes from hard work and entrepreneurship. Nobody's going to hand it to anybody. Folks who want wealth and resources have to get it the old-fashioned way -- they've got to earn it!

Somebody's spinning somebody here.:
Atlantic LNG president Rick Cape denied that Bechtel, the main train IV contractor, was pulling out of the project.

"There is no truth to the statement that they’re pulling out of Trinidad," he said yesterday. "I spoke to them (Bechtel) today, in fact we speak to them everyday, and that is totally untrue. They are not de-mobilising or pulling out. Their obligations are to Atlantic and they have given no indication they are in any way not going to perform."

Cape further denied suggestions coming out of the strike camp that there was an agreement between Bechtel and the workers for higher wages.


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