In T&T: Cement runs low

6 March 2012


Cement arriving from subsidiary companies to fill the gaps in supply. Hardware stores not receiving “as much as they would like.”

On February 27, the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) served strike notice at TCL and its sister company, TCL Packaging plants, at Claxton Bay and Mayo respectively, as negotiations between both parties reached a stalemate. The action, which was effective immediately, allows the approximately 600 workers to strike for a period of 90 days.

Bachew yesterday said the situation remains unchanged as there is no scheduled mediation discussion between the company and the union as facilitated by the Ministry of Labour.

Bachew pointed out that supplies of bag cement had begun arriving from its subsidiary companies at Barbados and Jamaica to both Trinidad and Tobago. However, he declined to identify the ports at which the cement would be arriving “for security reasons.”

Regarding the bulk cement supplies, Bachew said because of the nature of the market, it was more challenging to supply that market. He noted supplies were “running out” and identified companies such as Bestcrete which uses bulk cement (loose cement — not packaged in bags) in its manufacturing processes.

Asked whether the company may invite tenders from private companies to move the cement from its silos to be sold on the local market, he instead said TCL is exploring all available options to supply the market.

Bachew also dismissed allegations by the OWTU that the company had paid police officers to “brutalise” striking workers. He said the company as a “responsible employer” would not engage in any activity that would endanger the lives of its workers.

He said the Police Complaints Authority is conducting investigations into the OWTU’s claim of police brutality.

An official at Bestcrete confirmed that the company is experiencing difficulty in getting supplies of bulk cement on the market. Hardware Dealers Association president Joseph Callender also described the situation regarding cement supplies as “chaotic”.

Callender acknowledged that while sales were continuing at TCL’s warehouses in South Trinidad and Arima, customers and hardware dealers were not receiving as much as they would like to purchase.

“Yes, sales are continuing but not as much as we would like,” Callender said, adding that the association would also not condone hoarding or the black-market sales of the product. “The situation is chaotic. Construction is already dying and this strike is just killing it quicker,” said Callender. He expressed the hope that the situation could be resolved by early next week.

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