Friday, October 29, 2010

Women win cases against photo studio

Friday, October 29th 2010

link :,129953.html

TWO women have won their cases in the Industrial Court against an employer who varied their terms and conditions of employment.

In the first case, Grace Cumberbatch who worked at a photographic studio in south Trinidad, took the owner to the Industrial Court for ordering her to work at one of the studio’s branches which was different to the location she had negotiated to work at.

Submitting on behalf of Cumberbatch, the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union (ATGWTU) said the studio hours at the new location were different and it posed a difficulty in travelling from her home at Tableland.

The union contended that when she applied for the job, she had requested to work in San Fernando.

The union further argued that Cumberbatch did act properly by refusing to work at the location different to the one negotiated in her contract of employment.

The members of the court who heard the case were H. Soverall, G. Rousseau and R Linton. They held the employer varied the terms and conditions of the worker and as such should compensate her in the sum of $30,000 as damages.

The same judges of the court awarded Samdaye Jaggernauth $25,000 to be paid by the same employer, because her conditions of work were varied.

Jaggernauth claimed she was contracted to work at the employer’s store as a photographer/sales clerk, but claimed she sent her to a gym to work. The union argued Jaggernauth was made to sweep, take out the garbage and supervise a swimming pool. The judges held that in the event that an employer cannot provide employment which is comparable to a worker’s substantive post, the worker should be retrenched and paid severance benefits.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We want we money now!

Byline Author: 
Article Date: 
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Sacked Bel Air workers demand:
Tempers flared among sacked workers of Bel Air International Airport Hotel as a meeting between the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union (ATSGWTU) and the management of the hotel to discuss outstanding salaries and severance benefits failed to get off the ground.
Tempers flared among sacked workers of Bel Air International Airport Hotel as a meeting between the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union (ATSGWTU) and the management of the hotel to discuss outstanding salaries and severance benefits failed to get off the ground.
Standing in front of the hotel’s closed gates in Piarco last Thursday and shouting, “We want we money now,” the workers, flanked by ATSGWU first vice president John Jaglal and general secretary Anand Tiwari, have vowed to step up protest action until they are paid their $3,422, 277.87 in severance benefits and $64,000 in outstanding salaries. The workers received their last pay packets on June 15. The severance benefits the union has proposed for the workers range from $1,650 to $310,432.50.
On August 20, 40 permanent staff workers were thrown on the breadline after the 56 air-conditioned room hotel, which operated for almost six decades became insolvent. The workers did not receive letters informing them of the company’s insolvency and closure.
Speaking on behalf of the workers, attorney and ATSGWTU’s consultant and advisor Nirvan Maharaj explained that a meeting was carded for September 23 between the union and hotel’s management to settle all outstanding debts. When they showed up at Bel Air, however, they were faced with a locked gate. The hotel’s owner and chairman Robert Boos had rescheduled the meeting for September 29, which caused tempers to flare, as many felt they were being taken for a ride. “We are being taken for fools. This is unacceptable,” shouted a visibly upset Dookran Butchoon, who said that his children were struggling to survive because he had nothing to fall back on.
While Butchoon gave vent to his feelings, other workers shook the chained gate violently as a means of airing their frustration.
“There is no doubt that Bel Air has treated the workers, many of whom gave over 45 years of dedicated service unfairly and with contempt today,” said Maharaj. Maharaj said though the meeting did not materialise, the process of dialogue was far from over. Admitting that the workers’ backs were now against a wall since many owed banks and were unable to pay their bills, Maharaj said the union had since taken the workers’ plight to the Industrial Court and to the Ministry of Labour because the hotel is in breach of the terms and conditions of the Collective Agreement. “We are optimistic that if this matter goes before the Industrial Court the workers will get what is due to them based on the circumstances upon which they were sent home.”

Sunday, March 28, 2010

PSA calls for public solidarity against TTRA

By Richardson Dhalai Sunday, March 28 2010

On the eve of his senatorial debut, temporary Opposition Senator Christopher Joefield, vice-president of the Public Services Association (PSA) made an impassioned appeal for the public to assemble outside the Parliament in a show of solidarity as he leads the Opposition’s response to the Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority (TTRA).

Speaking at the “Voice of the People” rally at Saith Park, Chaguanas, Joefield also affirmed the union’s support for the rally which was organised by the Leader of the Opposition’s office saying the union was fully supportive of the efforts to unify the population on national issues. 

“We believe this effort will go a long way in changing the quality of life and service delivery to the citizens of this country and the PSA supports the efforts that we see here today,” he said. 

However, in a precursor of his address in the Senate, Joefield accused the Government, which he described as “the employer”, of attempting top destroy the labour movement and privatise the Public Service. 

“There are dedicated officers who continue to work diligently while suffering in silence while the employer is starving the Public Service of resources, both human and infrastructure, and is using contract employment and making public servants insecure,” Joefield said. 

“Vacancies are not filled, the system is being abused, workers are becoming demoralised and the wider effect is that of weakening of the trade union movement and we are calling on the government to stop privatising the Public Service,” he added. 

‘We are saying that the government must empower the Service Commissions so they can train public officers and we call for better relations between the employer and the union,” he added. 

“On March 29th we are asking for your support to turn back this draconian Bill and throw it in the dustbin,” Joefield added. 

Meanwhile, fellow labour leader, All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union, (ATGWTU), Rudy Indarsingh, also added his voice to the call for a national show of support for the PSA’s struggle for the BIR and Customs and Excise workers saying, “come Monday, we must assemble outside the Parliament and show our support for the PSA.” “We must ensure a decent work agenda for Trinidad and Tobago which is signatory. Over the last ten years, this government has only brought one piece of legislation; where are the amendments to the Industrial Relations Act, where are the amendments to the Retrenchment and Benefits Act,” he added. 

Indarsingh also reiterated that Government had failed to provide an acceptable explanation to the closure of the Usine Ste Madeleine refinery saying the company had realised a profit in its operations over the past few years. 

‘They continue to attack the workers and have recently announced the decision to close the sugar factory and there has not been a single explanation as to why they would want to close a profitable company,” he added.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Indarsingh condemns workers’ dismissal

Newsday : Thursday, January 7th 2010

link :,113749.html

ALL Trinidad General Workers Trade Union (ATGWTU) president general Rudranath Indarsingh says the dismissal of 46 contracted workers at the Sugar Manufacturing Company Limited (SMCL) at Usine, Ste Madeleine, is “anti-worker and anti-union.”

In a statement, Indarsingh called on the Labour Ministry to investigate why the workers were dismissed and why the company and the contractor refused to re- employ the workers.

He believes the action comes after the workers sought his union’s intervention and applied to have the ATGWTU represent their interests.

Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday, who is also Honorary President of the union, in an interview yesterday said the dismissal of the workers was “indicative of the anti-worker stance by both the employer and the Government.”

“I warned them about what would happen if they took the VSEP but they did not listen to me then, because this Government does not care about them and their plan was always to get rid of the workers and the unions,’ he said.

An official at the SMCL said yesterday that the company only employed 23 workers while the 46 which were laid off were from the contractor Technical Maintenance Company (TMC), which was responsible for laying them off.

Efforts to reach SMCL chief executive officer Chandra Bobart and TMC boss Christopher Paul proved futile.