Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 13th 2017 Contents RAPHAEL JOHN-LALL
The Communications Work-
ers' Union (CWU) is calling on
the Tourism Minister Shamfa
Cudjoe to resign over failure to
present a tourism policy in the
18 months she has been in office.
Secretary General of the union Jo-
seph Remy said the Prime Minister
must rein in his non-performing
Remy spoke yesterday at a media
conference held at Barataria Sport-
splex. His statement comes after
the decision by the Government to
dissolve the Tourism Development
Company (TDC) and split it into two
companies, one for Trinidad's tour-
ism and another for Tobago.
Remy demanded that the deci-
sion be put on hold and the union be
consulted and said it was done with
"deceit, disrespect and deception."
"There was no consultation with
us, with the workers or anybody pri-
or to this decision being made. We
have heard media reports of other
stakeholders and of no consultation
being made with them. This decision
will impact the jobs of 120 bargain-
ing unit workers at the TDC and that
will have attendant socio economic
fallout. That is the hallmark of an
uncaring government," he said.
On Saturday, in a paid advertise-
ment, the CWU said the decision is
meant to hurt the workers and union
and called it "anti union."
On Thursday, Cudjoe announced
at the post-Cabinet press briefing in
Tobago, that Cabinet agreed to dis-
solve the company and establish two
entities---one focussing on Tobago
and the other on Trinidad.
Cudjoe said the decision was not
immediate as the process would have
to be done in accordance with law.
"There was no consultation with
the CWU which is the legally rec-
ognised, majority union for two
bargaining units at the TDC. The
CWU has recently submitted pro-
posals for two collective agreements
for the two bargaining units of the
TDC. We have not had any coun-
ter-proposals from the company as
yet," Remy said.
He said they held a meeting with
the Minister of Labour,Jennifer Bap-
tiste-Primus on December 1, 2016,
and there was no indication that the
company was going to be dissolved.
Remy said last Thursday at 1.14 pm
he received a call from a number he
had never seen before and when he
answered the call it was the tour-
ism minister who indicated that the
Cabinet took a decision to dissolve
The conversation lasted one min-
ute and 48 seconds, he said.
"Under Section 40 of the Indus-
trial Relations Act (IRA) there is an
obligation to meet and treat in good
faith with the recognised majority
union for any issue relevant to col-
lective bargaining. The minster had
an obligation to meet and treat in
good faith. She has violated the pro-
visions of that act."
Michelle Lewis, a branch officer
of the CWU, who also spoke at the
media conference, fought back tears
as she spoke of the financial diffi-
culties that many workers and their
families will face if they are thrown
on the breadline. "Will you, Minis-
ter Cudjoe, be providing for all our
needs? Where is the data to justify
this decision?" she asked.
Monday, March 13, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Union accuses Tourism Minister of non-performance
190 metric tonnes to be processed
RADHICA DE SILVA
National Flour Mills yesterday
admitted that its rice mill "suf-
fered breakdowns in the drying
process in the last few months"
but denied over 200 tonnes of
locally produced rice was left
In response to the Sunday
Guardian lead story---Rotting
Rice...$400,000 in paddy left to
waste at NFM mill---the company
said given the age of the Carlsen
Field rice mill, spare parts were
"sometimes difficult to find and can
result in delays in effecting repairs."
The latest breakdown at the mill
took place last Friday with the con-
veyor belt which is expected to be
repaired today, the company said.
Yesterday's story claimed that the
mill had been non-functional since
November last year. Farmers claimed
they have been delivering supplies
and are being paid $2,000 a tonne
for their produce which has been left
idle in a growing heap.
The company said that during
the current paddy season an aver-
age of 120 metric tonnes of paddy
is brought in each week by farmers.
NFM said there was currently 190
metric tonnes of paddy in the shed,
which was expected to be processed
over the next five to ten business
days."The paddy currently in the
shed would not be lost but would
be dried and stored in our silos for
further processing during the next
two weeks. It must be noted that
the drying process, along with the
de-hulling of the paddy, removes the
moisture and the hull which is the
area of the paddy currently exposed.
The hull that is removed is allowed
to decompose and is collected by the
Ministry of Agriculture to be used as
manure. The on-site laboratory at
Carlsen Field tests materials at the
various stages of processing to en-
sure that there is no contamination,"
the company said.
The company disputed the news-
paper report that the plant had been
down since November and claimed
that if that was the case there would
be over 120 metric tonnes of paddy
on the ground.
It also challenged the claim that
"...some 200 tonnes of rice valued
at approximately $400,000 is cur-
rently being left to rot."
In a text response yesterday, Ag-
riculture Minister Clarence Ramb-
harat said he was aware of a break-
down at the rice mill since February.
Rambharat said the failure by
NFM to mill, package and sell rice
to customers was a slap in the face
to farmers and taxpayers. Rambharat
said the matter was being addressed
by NFM's line minister and Trade
Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon.
Rambharat said that on February
14, he met with representatives of
the rice sector and was informed of
"The CEO's of NFM and ADB were
present. The meeting was to discuss
the review of the last crop, discuss
the upcoming harvest, update on the
proposed divestment of the Carlsen
Field mill and the continued gov-
ernment support," Rambharat said.
He added, "The matter of the
paddy rotting was raised with the
CEO. Any failure by NFM to mill
and place local rice on the shelf for
human consumption is a slap in the
face for rice farmers and taxpayers."
Rambharat said that Govern-
ment's support for local rice pro-
duction and sale was deliberate.
"The expectation is that the rice
will be milled, packaged and sold,"
Over the past few months Ramb-
harat has been encouraging the
planting and consumption of local
rice. Hundreds of acres of ricelands
in the Oropouche basin have already
been destroyed by the intrusion of
salt water while valuable lagoon
lands in Woodland, Debe, San Fran-
cique have been backfilled and used
for home construction.
Contacted yesterday, Minister
Gopee-Scoon could not say wheth-
er any disciplinary action could be
taken against anyone at NFM. Go-
pee-Scoon said a team from NFM
visited the milling complex yester-
day and prepared a full report on the
alleged wastage. She said, however,
that much of what was carried on the
newspaper was erroneous.
Meanwhile, UNC Chairman
David Lee yesterday said Gop-
ee-Scoon should resign because
of the wastage. "Given the media
report that over 200 tonnes of rice
valued at $400,000 is currently be-
ing left to rot, the question must be
asked as to why didn't the NFM mill
the rice which would have produced
food for the population as well as
save on foreign exchange which is
used to import rice," Lee said.
He added, "Our national economy
is facing very strenuous times and
a scandal of wastage such as this
warrants the resignation of both the
NFM CEO and minister of trade as
both have forgone their responsi-
bility to effective use of taxpayers
dollars as well as commitment to
national food security."
He also said a number of questions
surround the impending sale of the
rice mill "such as to why didn't the
mill continue functioning until it's
sale therefore increasing its value
as well as who is the Government's
Exposed rice at National Flour Mills, Carlsen Field. PHOTO: SHASTRI BOODAN
CWU calls for Shamfa's head
In its statement, NFM said annual-
ly, rice farmers deliver between 2,000
and 2,500 metric tonnes of paddy to
the Carlsen Field plant for processing.
"This works out to be an average of
200 metric tonnes per month. How-
ever, due to the seasonal nature of
the crop, the current period (October
to March) generally sees heightened
activity as farmers harvest and deliver
their crops," the statement said.
"The paddy is usually processed
within one to ten days of delivery
depending on the amount of mois-
ture. The initial stage involves using
the open storage shed to spread the
paddy which also assists in moisture
reduction. The paddy is then dried
mechanically in a gas fired system. It
should be noted that the equipment
used to dry and process paddy was
installed over 25 years ago and conse-
quently requires regular maintenance
due to breakdowns and deterioration
in performance during use.
The market in Trinidad and the region
is mainly for parboiled rice, which the
Carlsen Field plant does not have the
capability to produce. The current di-
vestment of the rice mill is seeking an
investor who will be able to take over,
upgrade and expand the operations of
the Carlsen Field rice mill. This process
is expected to be completed by June,
2017," NFM said.
The mill is up for sale and account-
ing firm PriceWaterhouse is assisting
NFM with the divestment process.
"This process allows for local or re-
gional investors to purchase the assets
and lease the facilities and land to con-
tinue the development of the local rice
industry. Potential investors, who may
be short-listed as a result of this very
transparent process, will be required
to engage the local farmers as part
of the finalisation of their investment
proposals," NFM said.
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