Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 26th 2017 Contents A12 news
guardian.co.tt Wednesday, April 26, 2017
RADHICA DE SILVA
Former workers of Brazilian construction
firm, Construtora OAS, who are owed sala-
ries, severance and fringe benefits because of
queries of their working contracts, may still
get their dues.
Chairman of NIDCO, Herbert George said once their
names could be verified from the bundle of documents left
by OAS, the company which had been hired to construct
the $7.2 b Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Pt
Fortin, they will get their cheques.
The company's contract was subsequently termi-
nated after it failed to complete work on time.
However, relatives of workers who died after the
company's contract was terminated, might not be so
lucky. George said they will not get a cent unless they
produce a letter of administration to NIDCO proving
they were in charge of the deceased person's estate.
Since Friday, NIDCO has been paying the entire
severance payment and 50 per cent of fringe benefits
to workers, which amount to $28.7 million.
In an interview on Monday, George said it was rea-
sonable to ask for such documents because NIDCO
had an obligation to verify whether contracts were
genuine before making a payout. He admitted that
some workers had been turned away for failing to
produce an original I Owe You (IOU), from OAS which
acknowledged the debt owed.
"The OAS logo is red and some of them have submitted documents
with black logos which indicate it was copied. In some cases the signature was
questioned. When we get these documents, we will go through the bundles and
see if there is a duplicate. Once we have done so, we will honour the payments
but we will have to verify before we pay," George said.
He added that NIDCO was not out to deny anyone their just dues.
"Our aim is not to deny anyone but we have to be shrewd and be careful so
that we are not taken advantage of. Information must be genuine," George said.
He noted that much of the difficulties was caused because NIDCO was never
privy to the contract OAS had with workers.
Meanwhile, shop steward of the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union Hosein
Mohammed accused NIDCO of making things difficult for the workers. Moham-
med, a father of four, said many workers had received IOU's with a black logo.
"The signature was a scanned signature not an original signature. That is
what we got from OAS yet NIDCO saying those documents cannot work,"
Hosein said. He added that the wife of a deceased worker did not have $3,000
to get a letter of administration.
"What they are asking for is totally ridiculous. It is one hurdle after the next
for us. It is disheartening that we are getting only 30 to 35 per cent of what is
owed to us," Mohammed said.
Told that NIDCO did not intend to make a second payment, Mohammed
said this is against the law.
"According to the industrial law, once an entity decides to start to pay, they
have to pay the total figure owed. There are certain brackets under the indus-
trial law act and once they take responsibility to pay, they are mandated by law
to pay. If they decide not to pay they are breaking the law," Mohammed said.
Roughly 300 workers were expected to collect cheques on Monday. Yesterday
was the last day that NIDCO will be on site.
Cepep vs Moonilal
The Court of Ap-
peal has reserved its
decision on whether
tion and Enhancement
company can reinstate
its defamation lawsuit
against Opposition MP
Dr Roodal Moonilal.
Appellate Judges Allan
Mendonca, Prakash Moosai and
Andre Des Vignes did so on Mon-
day after hearing submissions
from attorneys representing the
company, which is challeng-
ing the decision High Court
judge, who dismissed its
claim earlier this year.
In his ruling Justice Ron-
nie Boodoosingh said that
State agencies such as Ce-
pep are not legally protected
to bring such lawsuits against
the public and to safeguard
themselves from any scruti-
ny such companies should
be transparent with the
"The fundamental right
of freedom of speech is
involved here and there is
a public interest consider-
ation in allowing inhibited
criticisms. The threat of
a civil action can have a
rippling effect on the right
of freedom of speech, espe-
cially for a company with half
a billion dollars of public funds
each year," Boodoosingh said.
Presenting submission at the
Hall of Justice, Cepep's lawyer Elton
Prescott, SC, claimed that while his client re-
ceived almost $500 million in Government funding
annually, it should could not be considered as a State
body as its board was not democratically elected.
"Although Cepep is a creature of Government, the
board is made up of people from all walks of civil life,
who are not elected," Prescott submitted.
Despite being repeatedly questioned by Mendonca
and Moosai over the independence of the company's
management considering that its board is appointed
by the Government, Prescott claimed that the court
was required to look beyond the company's funding
and focus of its legal nature and functions.
Attorney Larry Lalla, who is representing Moonilal,
mainly relied on his submissions which were first
raised before Boodoosingh, which led to the dismissal
of the case.
Moonilal initially brought a lawsuit against the
company, and by extension the State, after the pub-
lication of a full-page advertisement in August 2016,
alleging that there was misappropriation of $39.6
million of Cepep's funds on construction projects
in his constituency while he was the company's line
As a result, Cepep counter-sued claiming Moonilal
made defamatory statements against the company's
operations under the People's National Movement
administration. The company further sought an in-
junction preventing Moonilal from repeating such
statements but the request was eventually withdrawn.
Former workers of OAS Construtura gathered to
receive outstanding payments outisde the company's
gates at Golconda last week. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Links Archive April 25th 2017 April 27th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page