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  • Statement by OWTU General Council on TCL

    Monday 2nd February 2015

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  • February 6, 2015 MEDIA RELEASE

    Keep TCL in Local Hands to Protect T&T and the Caribbean Region.

    Read more.

     

  • Statement by OWTU General Council on TCL

    Monday 2 February, 2015

    STATEMENT BY OWTU GENERAL COUNCIL

    The  Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union has always been warning about the poor management performance of Trinidad Cement Ltd. over the last 8 years. We continuously expressed our concern over the operations and poor management decisions that had very adverse impacts on the company. We therefore supported the new Board’s decision to remove senior managers including the CEO Rollin Bertrand, General Manager Satnarine Bachew, Operations Manager, Harrinarine Dipnarine and Group Human Resource Manager, David Ceasar because of their failure at the helm of TCL. The OWTU has also been calling for the restructuring of TCL in order to improve the operations of the Company and therefore increase its profitability. 

    However, the OWTU is very clear in terms of any attempt to takeover the Company by any one entity, in particular, CEMEX. This position is consistent with the Union’s position in 2002 when CEMEX was attempting to take over TCL and the Union led a campaign to ensure that TCL remained in local hands. We believe that any takeover of TCL by any foreign company is inimical to the interests of the TCL workers, the Company, the Country and the nation as a whole. We will do everything possible to prevent the loss of such a valuable national company to a multinational giant such as CEMEX or any other company.

    The OWTU therefore vehemently oppose repealing Article 5 of the Articles of Continuance which will remove the 20% ceiling on the number of shares owned by single individual or corporation. If this restriction is lifted by repealing Article 5 it would enable one entity to gain majority control of TCL. 

    The TCL issue involves matters that are beyond the shareholder value. If our economy is to grow and be strengthened then there will be need to encourage strong, competitive companies that are locally owned and produce for both local and foreign export. TCL is certainly such a company. It is indeed not just a major national player but it is also a major regional player. If the article is repealed and the 20% restriction is lifted then it open the door for Cemex to takeover TCL and it would represent a weakening of efforts to build local and regional firms that will create wealth for the country to benefit.   

    If CEMEX were to take over TCL then a major precedent will be set that will have negative far reaching implications for ALL companies that are listed on the local stock exchange. It will usher in an era where global companies will begin buying out local companies which will have a serious adverse impact on our economy. We can wake up one morning and find that our economy and the majority of our national resources are in foreign hands. If such a situation occurs then it would be foreigners who will dictate the future of our country. Is that what we want or our country? It is certainly not what OWTU wants for our country. The OWTU’s ideological position is that the valuable resources of the country belong to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. We have always struggled for and will continue to struggle for local ownership of our country’s resources.

     

    TCL is a good company with the vast potential to be extremely profitable. It is strategically important to Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. It is appreciated that the construction sector is a key component for local and regional economies and therefore an important cement plant like the TCL Plant must remain in local hands to ensure that the benefits of this key economic activity are not shifted away to foreign hands.  It is a company that we as nationals can be proud of. Join us is saving our local economy. 

    OWTU General Council

  • Keep TCL in Local Hands to Protect T&T and the Caribbean Region

     February 6, 2015

    MEDIA RELEASE

      

    Keep TCL in Local Hands to Protect T&T and the Caribbean Region

     

    The upcoming vote on the removal of the current 20% cap on share ownership by any one entity at TCL is crucial. If the current cap is removed the door would be opened for a company such as CEMEX to eventually attain majority share ownership in this local manufacturing company. In its own right the sale of local resources to foreign owners would have significant negative impacts for the local economy and by extension the Caribbean region. The OWTU’s position therefore is that this cap should not be removed so that our national resources are protected. However, the underlying reason for the current push to have the cap removed is of even greater concern.

     

    As is public knowledge, TCL has been facing severe financial difficulties in the recent past under the leadership of the former Group CEO Rollin Bertrand. As a result, the company has been seeking out financing and one of its major financers is now the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. The removal of the 20% limit on share ownership is related to the loan conditionalities being imposed by the IFC on TCL. Opening the door for a foreign buyout will see Trinidad and Tobago suffering significant negative impacts. National ownership will be eroded, given TCL’s role as a regional player, the process of regional integration would also be affected, job cuts would be almost guaranteed and local stock market activity would be ultimately reduced. These issues are of no concern to the IFC, but must be of major concern to all Trinidad and Tobago citizens. Citizens therefore have a responsibility not to allow these negative outcomes to be realised.

     

    Given the significant potential impacts of the removal of the existing 20% limit, it is important to know what the policy position of the Trinidad and Tobago Government is on this issue. What is the policy position which will be guiding state enterprises with shares in TCL? Surely the government cannot be in support of such a move. 

     

    Furthermore, the international market for cement manufacturing is dominated by a few large companies, one of which is CEMEX. If TCL was to be acquired by CEMEX, this would lead to a further concentration of wealth into the hands of a few large multi-national firms.

     

    As explained above, it is in the best interest for Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean region for these assets to remain in local hands. Protecting the local manufacturing sector, promoting a vibrant stock exchange, protecting jobs and encouraging foreign exchange flows must not be trumped by the narrow interests of CEMEX and the IFC!

     

    Ozzi Warwick

     

    Chief Education and Research Officer

  • OWTU opposes Petrotrin docking West African vessel without using Proper Protocols

    On 21st October, 2014, OWTU alerted the media of Petrotrin’s attempt to dock a West African vessel  at the port of Pointe-a-Pierre without employing proper protocols. At a media conference held on the same day, the OWTU called on Petrotrin’s management to establish proper protocols and new clearance procedures, particularly in light of the global Ebola threat. President General Ancel Roget stressed that this is not an industrial relations matter but one of life and death. “We must do our utmost to protect the lives, the limbs and the wellbeing of citizens of our country!” PG Roget said.

  • JTUM calls for end to Precarious Work

    "The elements for which we have struggled so hard are undermined with contract work” said OWTU President General  Ancel Roget at the seminar entitled, “A of Action Day to Stop Precarious Work”. The seminar was held at Paramount Building, San Fernando on October 7th’ - World Day for Decent Work. Scores of trade union and credit union members participated at the seminar. This seminar was OWTU’s response to a call by its global union IndustriALL to host an activity to support the global campaign to end precarious work.

  • Hundreds of Officers and Shop Stewards Take Oath of Office

    The Oath of Office taken by officers annually and by shop stewards every two years signifies the commitment that comrades have made to the union, to the members who elected them and to the vision and mission of the OWTU.

    Hundreds of officers and shop stewards took the oath of office on Saturday 27th September 2014.

    “If we are to be in the Vanguard of that movement, the leadership of that movement then we have to be held and are held to a different standard of conduct,” Cde. David Abdulah, Installing Officer said.

    “Officers and shop stewards in taking the oath of office have to recognize that they are engaging upon a solemn, indeed  sacred, undertaking, to do the things that you are swearing to do and not to behave like the politicians in parliament who would swear to do one thing but then do the exact opposite,” Cde. Abdulah added.

  • OWTU Co-sponsors Armchair Discussion on “People Power and Constitution Reform”

    “Attempting to govern T&T in 2014 with the present Constitution is like trying to use one of our modern day ‘apps’ on an old DOS computer system,” Comrade Abdulah said as civil society groups, OWTU members, students and UWI staff gathered to discuss “People Power and Constitution Reform” at the Arm Chair Discussion on September 11th. The event is held annually as part of the activities of the Department of Economic’s Conference on the Economy (COTE). COTE 2014 was held in honour of Professor Dennis Pantin, a former Head of the Department of Economics at UWI St Augustine. Dr. Olabisi Kuboni – Chair of the Constitution Reform Forum; Dr. Bishnu Ragoonath – Head, Department of Political Sciences, UWI; and the OWTU’s General Secretary, Comrade David Abdulah led the discussion.  Given the longstanding relationship which the OWTU enjoyed with Professor Pantin the Union partnered with UWI to host this important activity.

  • Post-Budget People Sector Forum

    "This budget does not excite me", economist Indera Sagewan Alli said at the Post Budget People Sector Breakfast Forum hosted by the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union and the Co-operative Credit Union League of Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday 9th September. She was referring to the 2014/2015 national budget that was read in parliament by Finance Minister Larry Howai the day before.

    Sagewan Alli went further to say that though she anticipated the many "goodies" mentioned in the "election year budget", she lashed out against the government for using the budget primarily as a political tool and not as an economic tool to chart a sustainable path for the country. 

    Other speakers that addressed the packed OWTU Paramount Building were OWTU President General Ancel Roget, President of the Co-operative Credit Union League, Joseph Remy, General Secretary of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs Akins Vidale, President of the Trinidad Unified Farmers Assoc. Shiraz Khan, OWTU Education and Research Officer Rosa Whittier, and President of the Trinidad Youth Council Sean Nicholson.

    Participants included students from schools in the San Fernando area and trade unionists, credit unionists, other citizens and members of NGOs. OWTU Chief Education and Research Officer, Ozzi Warwick was the chairperson for the programme.

  • JTUM Commemorates 3rd Anniv. of SOE

    President General Ancel Roget described the 2011 State of Emergency as "one of the darkest periods" in Trinidad and Tobago's recent history. On August 21, 2014, Joint Trade Union Movement leaders and activists marked for the third consecutive year, the anniversary of the State of Emergency with a silent protest at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain. The activity aimed to remind the public of the Peoples' Partnership government's legacy of violating/taking away citizens' rights in the name of democracy and national security.