Cemex workers complain of pension irregularities

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CEMEX (formerly TCL) workers took their dissatisfaction with the way their financial benefits are being managed to the front gate of the Claxton Bay cement company on Monday.

The workers who are represented by the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) said, since 2015, they have not been paid a cost of living allowance (COLA) or gain share which are enshrined in their last collective agreement, in addition to irregularities with their pension plan.

Branch president Kevin Arjoon, who led placard-carrying protesters in the march, made it clear that although they were in negotiations for a new collective agreement, Monday’s demonstration was not for increased wages but for what was owed to them.

He said COLA and gain share are articles enshrined in their last collective agreement and the condition under which they should be distributed to workers. Since January 2015, neither of these benefits have been honoured.

In addition, he claimed management had taken numerous unilateral decisions with respect to workers’ pensions.

“This is a serious issue. What is happening is that the company has miscalculated close to 74 people’s pension and we also have people who are being removed from the pension plan without consultation.”

He pointed to the transfer of the pension plan for workers from Trinidad Packaging Ltd, (TPL) one of the companies in the group which was closed in 2021, from Republic Bank to another trustee in Sagicor.

He explained that the move would affect the pension of the former TPL workers.

He said since the non-payment of COLA and gain share was not applied since 2015 to present, workers who would have left the company during that period would be seriously affected and their pension must be recalculated.

“The money they are interfering with does not belong to the company. It belongs to the workers. When making changes to the pension plans, there are rules governing how you treat with each of these issues. The company is going against these rules and high-handedly making changes to the pension plan.”

Pointing to the last signed collective agreement between 2006 to 2009, Arjoon said a memorandum of agreement was agreed to between the top management of the company and the union governing agreements up until 2015.

He said negotiations for a new collective agreement began in since December 2021. At the last meeting on March 31, 2022 a request was made for a copy of the audited financials.

“From March to now we have not received those financials, we cannot move forward, neither can we make any kind of educated proposals in the absence of those financials.”

Efforts to reach the company for a response were not successful.


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