Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 17th 2016 Contents JANUARY 17 • 2016 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | SBG5
PART IIJob loss affects the stability of
families and individuals. For most,
status, self-worth, health and
well-being are drastically affected
by the loss of a job even if it s for
a short time. What can be harder
than losing your job during a recession? For
employees of Arcelor Mittal that is a stark
reality. They were sent home at the height of
the Christmas season and making ends meet
for many has been difficult.
Ronnie Alexander is one such worker. He
told the GML Enterprise Desk: "It is hard. I
have a mortgage of $4,000 a month. I have
salary deductions for loans and credit cards.
My mortgage is now in arrears of $4,000 and
my loans and deductions are in arrears of
An operator at Arcelor Mittal, Alexander
was one of more than 600 workers sent home
by the company in December. He has a wife
and two children ages five and ten.
"My son takes drum lessons that costs me
$1,600 a term and my daughter is in Standard
4 getting ready for SEA. Her lessons cost $100
a week, that is, $400 a month," he said.
He has had to dip into his savings and said
he is grateful that his children s teachers have
been very understanding.
"They told me I could pay for the lessons
when things get better."
Alexander said losing his job at a time like
this "is not easy. I am trying to make a better
life for my children so that when they grow
up they don t have some of the hardships
which I have suffered."
Alexander said if he is not re-employed by
Arcelor Mittal soon he will "have to hustle
do something to maintain my family, because
at this time I flat out broke." He is concerned
that the longer he is unemployed the greater
the debt he will be saddled with. His biggest
worry is his mortgage.
To compound Alexander s problems, the
increase in food prices as a result of the
removal of several items from the zero-rated
VAT list means his monthly grocery bill---
which was in the range $1,200---is likely to
increase to $1,600.
Another worker told us that he had to give
up an apartment which he rented. He has a
wife and three children---ages 6 to 12---and
his monthly rent was $2,500. When he was
laid off that was just too much to pay, so
friends assisted him in building a small struc-
ture on a piece of land which he got from a
relative. He, too, is dipping into his savings
One laid-off worker, whose wife is ailing
wife and needs to take four tablets a day, each
costing $40---a total of $4,800 a month--- is
worried about the future.
For these men borrowing from friends and
relatives to make it is not on the cards. They
hoping that good sense will prevail and Arcelor
Mittal calls them back to work. If not, they
may have to find "something to help make
Alexander believes the employees are being
used as pawns by Arcelor Mittal to get the
Government to give them lower rates for gas.
Company officials said they had to send the
workers home because of the world steel sit-
Last week, energy company BHP Billiton
announced plans to send home workers.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Keith Rowley is
urging companies to keep workers employed
in this time of economic downturn.
The reality of coping in a recession is already
difficult, but it becomes even harder for those
who lose their jobs. One expert suggests that
families cope during this period of adjustment
by relying on each other, becoming a true
support network. The men laid off by Arcelor
Mittal say that is just what they are doing,
helping each other as best as they can.
Economist Vaalmiki Arjoon said while some
of the workers wait to see how soon they
would be re-employed, they should explore
areas where they can sharpen their skills and
make themselves more attractive on the job
Dr Arjoon said sending home workers
should be a last resort but affected workers
should use the time in a short-term pro-
gramme "utilising GATE or other free edu-
cational opportunities to become more mar-
It is also an opportunity, he said, to become
a small entrepreneur in agriculture, tourism
or even manufacturing. He is also recom-
mending a reduction in spending.
Looking ahead, Dr Arjoon said no one is
sure when the economic downturn will end
but this is a good opportunity to plan for the
"Open mutual investment funds for the
children instead of buying unnecessary gadgets.
Look for investment opportunities. We do
not know if it will get worse before it gets
Recession survival strategies
Dr Arjoon said heads of households need to
keep in mind that food prices and the cost of
living are "going to be much higher than it
was." He said many times when people run
into financial problems, they run to the bank
for a loan to tide them over. He is advising
"That should be a last resort. Do not take
out additional debts."
Instead, he said, consider setting up "a rainy
day fund. Start saving more in case the recession
He added that this was not the time to
embark on any big projects "like home ren-
ovations or buying a new car. Those things
should be put on hold."
He said employees should make themselves
invaluable and sharpen their skills because,
after the recession, employers would be looking
to rehire and would want the best pool of tal-
Important, too, Dr Arjoon said, is to keep
on top of the country s macro-economic sit-
"Keep monitoring the data, inflation rates,
unemployment rate, GDP, interest rates. Be
alert to what is happening."
For those who are tech savvy, download apps
and tools to help regulate spending."Use tech-
nology to budget for the future."
Hard times for
Surviving a recession
GML ENTERPRISE DESK
Links Archive January 16th 2016 January 18th 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page