Member of Parliament for Couva South Rudranath Indarsingh is reacting angrily today over reports that some 257 employees of Tubecity IMS Trinidad Limited are being sent on the breadline.
Tubecity was a contractor of Point Lisas based ArcelorMittal Steel Plant which suddenly closed its Trinidad operations in 2016, putting over 700 employees on the breadline.
ArcelorMittal had accounted for approximately 5% of Trinidad and Tobago’s export earnings in recent years.
The domino effect of ArcelorMittal’s closure has led to the closure of several downstream companies resulting in a knock-on impact on related sectors, including local steel processors and specialist suppliers.
Indarsingh, the former Minister of State in the Ministries of Labour and Finance in the People’s Partnership Government, said that the Government has failed to take into consideration the immediate effects that ArcelorMittal’s closure were going to have on the industry at large and did absolutely nothing to attempt to engage ArcelorMittal into discussions to save off its closure.
He said that even after their closure, there were serious inquiries from foreign investors who were interested in reopening the plant but wanted certain assurances from the Government as Foreign Direct Investors.
He citied the case of a representative of a Canadian consortium coming to Trinidad in January 2017 to meet with Government officials to discuss the possible acquisition of the steel plant and he was denied even an audience with any member of the Rowley-led Administration.
“How can you expect to attract any FDI if you will not even extend the courtesy of a meeting… a meeting which could have resulted in having this plant reopened and bringing back into the workforce over 700 employees. This would also have saved the jobs of the hundreds of employees in the many other downstream industries that depended on ArcelorMittal” Indarsingh is asking.
Indarsingh said that the continued repeated promises of Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus were just that – promises. He said that every week there are companies literally closing their business and many times, workers, many of them with decades of dedicated service, are loosing their termination and severance benefits.
Indarsingh asked Baptiste-Primus how many times has she promised that her Government will be introducing amendments to the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act and the Industrial Relations Act in Parliament, yet after 31 months in office, this continues to be another failed promise.
He also called on the Labour Minister to reveal what is the delay for her being unable to deliver on her promised ten-point plan to assist all retrenched workers revolving around matching workers’ skills with job vacancies.
Indarsingh, speaking as a Member of Parliament and former President of a major Trade Union, said that the reality is both the private and public-sector workers have no assurances or confidence that the Government will protect the terms and conditions of their employment.
He called on the Rowley-led PNM Administration, especially Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, herself a former President of the Public Services Association, to adopt and implement swift measures to reverse its non-adherence to enforcing labour laws and protecting workers.