T&T contractors hope for lower cement prices
(Trinidad Express) The Trinidad and Tobago Contractors’ Association (TTCA) is “glad” that the Trinidad Cement Ltd wage dispute has been referred to the Industrial Court.
The 90-day strike ended last weekend, causing disruptions in the already stagnant construction sector because of shortages and price hikes in cement supplies.
On Monday a two-hour-long meeting between the company and the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, mediated by the Labour Ministry, was held at the Ministry’s office, Tower C, Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, after the union referred the matter to Labour Minister Errol McLeod with the request that it be sent to the Industrial Court for final determination.
“We’re glad the OWTU has referred the dispute to the Industrial Court. At least operations at TCL with workers should return to normal. For us contractors we look forward to a reliable supply and return to normal price for cement as soon as possible. It’s a pity the strike went the full 90 days; the two parties to this dispute have suffered financially. TCL may even now be in a weaker position than before the strike. The public too has had to suffer. Now the Industrial Court, to which both parties could have referred earlier, will make a decision and even resolve the situation without all the negative fallout that followed,” TTCA president Mervyn Chin told the Express in a text message on Tuesday.
The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce shared similar sentiments.
“We have always called for the strike to be referred to the Industrial Court,” a Chamber spokesperson said yesterday.
In a release last Friday, the Chamber said the TCL impasse has “undoubtedly had a negative effect on the economy”.
“Our construction sector, which is a major employer in Trinidad and Tobago, has either had to put many projects on hold, downsize, or slow down construction,” said the Chamber, adding that the slowdown has been felt downstream in the sector, with some construction workers out of work due to projects on hold.
“Overall, the strike at TCL has taken a toll on the efficiency of our construction sector, at a delicate time when it was already facing other considerable challenges. A resolution is long overdue and we look forward to this matter being taken to the Industrial Court,” the Chamber said.
Such a situation must never be allowed to be repeated, as unstable labour relations will continue to be a threat to our competitiveness and economic growth and development, said the Chamber.