Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 15th 2016 Contents A23
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The public is hereby no-
the Noise Pollution Control
Date of Event/
April 30th 2016
Description of Event/
Address of Event/
Duration of Event/
May the Sacred Heart
of Jesus be adored,
glorified, loved and
the whole world now
and forever. Our Sacred
Heart of Jesus pray for
us, St Jude worker of
miracles pray for us.
Saint Jude helper of the
helpless pray for us. Say
this prayer 9 times a day
for 9 days. By the eighth
day your prayer will be
answered. It has never
been known to fail.
Publication must be prom-
ised. Thank you St. Jude
for favours granted. W
Severance benefits should
be protected by law
An open letter to the Govern-
ment of T&T, all trade unions,
employees of ArcelorMittal and
ArcelorMittal Pt Lisas Limited:
Firstly, please allow me to state
for the record, that I am writing in
the capacity of a concerned citizen,
solely based on my research and un-
derstanding of employee rights as it
relates to the insolvency of a multi-
national enterprise in accordance
with the recommendations made by
the International Labor Organization
The objective of my letter is to
ask the right questions, to encour-
age proactive thinking and discus-
sion moving forward with the recent
dismissal of more than 644 employ-
ees of ArcelorMittal Pt Lisas Lim-
The ILO has made numerous rec-
ommendations and standards con-
cerning the protection of employee
or workers' claims during the insol-
vency proceedings of their employer.
It is however, the duty of the gov-
ernment of the country concerned
to enforce these recommendations
According to the ILO, certain
claims should be protected by
means of privilege. From my under-
standing, this relates to the inherent
rights or benefits enjoyed by a se-
lect group of people (in this case, the
workers).Claims protected by
means of privilege should include, at
1. The workers' claims for wages
relating to a prescribed period,
which shall not be less than three
months, prior to the insolvency or
prior to the termination of the em-
2. The workers' claims for holiday
pay due as a result of work per-
formed during the year in which the
insolvency or the termination of the
employment occurred, and in the
3. The workers' claims for
amounts due in respect of other
types of paid absence relating to a
prescribed period, which shall not be
less than three months, prior to the
insolvency or prior to the termina-
tion of the employment;
4. Severance pay due to workers
upon termination of their employ-
The above was taken directly
from: Article 6, C173 - Protection of
Workers' Claims (Employer's Insol-
vency) Convention, 1992 (No. 173).
Convention concerning the Protec-
tion of Workers' Claims in the event
of the Insolvency of their Employer.
Adopted in Geneva, 79th ILC session
(23 Jun 1992).
It is noteworthy that severance
benefits are included and should be
protected by law. Now my question
is this, in T&T, is the severance bene-
fit of the worker protected by law in
the event of insolvency of the em-
ployer? If it is not, then it is crucial
that the Attorney General and the
Government draft new legislation to
protect its working class.
What is going to stop other multi-
national enterprises currently oper-
ating in T&T from invoking similar
"loop holes" during this recession?
Why are we still waiting to react to
a situation when it arises, instead of
Secondly, at the time of writing
this article, I observe that Arcelor-
Mittal did not make a formal press
release on their corporate website. If
this is an official decision by the
board of directors, I would expect to
see public disclosure of this decision
to all stakeholders.
Is it that this decision, the disre-
spect shown to international labour
standards and to the people of T&T,
negatively impact the company's
reputation and by extension, its
share price? Furthermore, how
would this decision affect Arcelor-
Mittal's license to operate in other
In hind sight, if this is the com-
pany's final decision, I would encour-
age the workers to escalate this
situation on the international stage;
highlighting to other countries, gov-
ernments and organisations such as
the ILO, the ethical failure of Arcelor-
Mittal as a responsible multinational
enterprise to abide by international
I hope our leaders are prepared to
be more proactive as our working
class is being held hostage and it is
the responsibility of the Govern-
ment to protect its people (for my
political fanatics, I do not mean it is
the responsibility of the PNM or
The recommendations of the ILO
presented in this letter is 24 years
old, didn't someone in authority ever
consider how medieval our laws re-
My prayers and condolences go
out to the workers of Arcelor Mittal
Pt Lisas Limited. keep hope alive my
brothers and sisters.
Another 'too big to fail' company
After a decade and a half of absorbing
billions from selling the state inflated-
priced steel products they are lamenting
that their inflated profit margin is too slim
to stay in business in T&T.
This company has no honour or no
Closure of this company is hardly sud-
den unless the regulated industries regula-
tors are again asleep at the wheel as they
were in late 2000 when Clico folded and
filed bankruptcy to their astonishment. I'm
surprised Government isn't talking about
giving ArcelorMittal taxpayers' money to
bail them out like Clico.
Greed to control profits in the steel man-
ufacturing market is the real cause.
Government can easily zero-rate impor-
tation of iron and steel to zero per cent
duty and VAT in this time of national build-
ing material crisis.
Or government can recognise alterna-
tive building materials such as industrial
hemp and industrial Polystyrene.
If the Government takes over this com-
pany, how much debt would it be accepting
to run it?
Where would they get the money?
Would they borrow from the IDB or IMF?
How much royalties would ArcelorMittal
expect Government to pay them for this
iron and steel franchise?
Or would the arrangement be a produce
or pay contract, meaning government
must produce and sell a fixed amount of
refinery product and irrespective of produc-
ing and selling, pay ArcelorMittal for rights
to operate their plant.
Government should borrow from the
IDB or world bank or IMF to bailout this
steel company as it's too big to fail, just like
Clico was too big to fail and got bailed out.
T&T nation's would gladly shoulder this
debt as they've shouldered Clico's debt.
T&T could only come second in this battle
ISCOTT, the original steel company, was
a political plant. A straight case of jobs for
We did not have iron ore occurring natu-
rally but we had natural gas in abundance.
So based on one man's recommendation
we constructed it.
Throughout its history the plant was
never financially profitable. It was always a
drain on the Treasury.
The recent victory in the Industrial Court
was a case of winning the battle but losing
the war. The Opposition Leader, true to
form, is blaming the Government and not
offering any solution. The PM, in spite of
his stern words, is powerless. Meeting with
the Labour Minister is futile and a waste of
The highest steel price was in 2008. The
slow down occurred in 2015.
Why? Overproduction. There was a
slowdown in the construction, real estate
and auto industries.
Let us face the facts like big men and
women. ArcelorMittal is the world's largest
steel company. Lakshani Mittal is the sixth
richest person in the world.
Do we want a battle where we will
We can turn this negative into a posi-
tive. How? Let us take the industry and run
Look to Caricom for employment
The abrupt closure of the steel plant of
multi-billionaire Mittal is a wake-up call for
those less financially secure. The immedi-
ate concern is to seek new avenues of em-
ployment as, realistically, the Mittal
organisation does not view itself as obliged
So what of our own Caricom-based op-
portunities for employment? It does not
have to be steel. Surely there are welders
and other skilled labourers who can seek
employment up the islands or even further
Depending on your seniority and expert-
ise it may mean relocating, and what is so
difficult about that? If workers can find
employment in Canada in the fruit-picking
industry, the Ministry of Labour should be
able to identify opportunities for employ-
ment in any part of the world.
A job is a job. An offer of employment as
a skilled worker, even as far afield as Aus-
tralia or New Zealand, should not be turned
Workers need to start thinking big and
Nicholas Ragbir rides his BMX bicycle as his neighbour Kyron Alexander
hitches a ride at Carib Circular Road, La Platta Gardens, Valencia, on Sunday.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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