TCL plant restarts with skeleton staff

(Trinidad Express) Using a skeleton staff of strike breakers and managers, Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) has restarted the factory and resumed the production of cement.

This despite an almost three-week strike by all but a few of the company’s 600 workers who have refused a 6.5 per cent increase in salaries.

TCL’s production manager, Keith Ramjitsingh, said the plant was running on “mill and roller press mode” and did not require a large number of workers. He said in six hours, 370 tonnes of bulk cement was produced on Thursday.

Bulk cement is used by ready-mix and concrete block companies. The company took media workers on a tour of the Claxton Bay plant yesterday.

Ramjitsingh said: “The good news about that is, that is one of the highest production numbers per hour we have ever gotten on the roller press since this plant was commissioned (five years ago). That was an excellent effort on the people who ran the plant yesterday.”

Ramjitsingh said on a normal eight-hour shift the plant produces 480 tonnes of cement.

Ramjitsingh said the plant would eventually run on a two-shift system, producing up to 6,000 tonnes of cement a week.

Ramjitsingh said TCL had a stockpile of approximately 25,000 tonnes of clinker—the core material used to manufacture cement.

In the interim, the bagged cement will continue to be imported from TCL’s subsidiaries in Barbados and Jamaica.

Ramjitsingh said the plant was being operated by managers and senior employees who were part of the design, build and construction of the facility.

But Ancel Roget, president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), said the managers were not certified in operating the highly technical plant.

He said proper Occupational, Health and Safety procedures were not being practised and noted the amount of cement produced was being exaggerated.

Roget said workers were not deterred and intend to continue the planned 90-day strike.

The company’s 6.5 per cent wage increase was refused by the union demanding 16 per cent. The company has since mailed individual contract offers to its 600 workers.

TCL’s general manager Satnarine Bachew said several workers have accepted the package. But Roget said contracts were being burnt at the strike camp in Claxton Bay daily.


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