Saturday, April 10, 2004

T&T: Union thuggism at ALNG

Contractors at the Atlantic Train IV site said yesterday that are "facing a difficult future" due to a nine-week strike and disclosed that the majority of the 1,700 workers involved want to return to their jobs.

"Seventeen hundred workers are facing a bleak Easter weekend because a handful of thugs have intimidated them, threatened their families and prevented them from exercising their basic human right to accept employment," said a South Trinidad Chamber of Industry and Commerce press release.

According to the Chamber, "under pressure from their workers, who are desperate to return to the site, the 16 Trinidadian contractors on the Atlantic LNG Train IV site met on their own and then with officials from Bechtel earlier yesterday, at a meeting facilitated by the South Trinidad Chamber of Industry and Commerce."

The release also stated: "the contractors all told a similar story. The overwhelming majority of their workers were anxious to return to the Train IV construction site and accepted the enhanced Memorandum of Understanding recently offered by Bechtel.

"The meeting heard how the workers had experienced threats of physical violence from the strike "leaders" and how the contractors have themselves been threatened and had their vehicles and other equipment damaged at the site gates.

"The contractors reported that they were inundated by telephone calls from their workers asking to be sent back on to the Train IV site. They estimate that the average worker has lost some $16,000 in lost wages since the start of the strike. They further pointed out that if the workers had been allowed to return on site this week they would have received a wage for the two public holidays over the long weekend. Instead they are getting nothing.

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