Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 1st 2013 Contents RADHICA SOOKRAJ
Construction of the Solomon Hochoy
Highway extension remained at a standstill
again for most of the day yesterday as
protesting workers issued an ultimatum
to Brazilian contractor OAS Constructora
to address their wage and safety concerns
in 15 days.
The Oilfields Workers Trade Union s
labour relations officer Aaron Moyne met
with the workers at noon and told them
the company had promised to meet some
of their demands.
However, angry workers who gathered at
the Golconda job site said they would with-
hold their services if proper wages were not
arranged. Moyne told workers the OWTU
will meet with OAS and issue the ultimatum.
"We are giving them 15 days, until May
13, to address this. We will also build our
case and walk with documents to show
that the workers are underpaid. We will
not allow them to bring expatriates to take
our jobs," Moyne said.
Holding up a document from project
manager Andre Luiz Albuquerque Carvalho,
Moyne said OAS Constructora had request-
ed 30 days to improve their working con-
ditions with water distribution.
However, a worker shouted, "That is too
long. By then we would dead!"
Moyne said OAS promised to buy a new
container to store the coolers and the drink-
"They said they will designate a person
to clean the coolers before the commence-
ment of the works. Is this sufficient?"
The workers shouted , "No!"
Reading from the document, Moyne said:
"The company is paying for five-day-a-
week cleaning. They said it is impossible
to clean all toilets when the toilet is far
from the road and when it rains, the pump
truck does not have access to it."
With regard to claims that water was
available at all sites, the workers denied
that water was available to wash hands.
Carvalho said in his statement that an
assessment would be done to determine if
more lockers and clothing supplies were
needed, but Moyne said workers needed a
proper changing room.
Carvalho said two ambulances were suf-
ficient for each of the assigned areas, and
promised to review tents and have four
buses on site to shuttle workers.
On Monday, Works and Infrastructure
Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan expressed
hope that the workers concerns would be
settled bilaterally and said he would meet
with them if not.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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OAS gets 15 days to address concerns
Workers on highway project continue protest...
In his statement, Carvalho explained that
expatriates were brought in to work in case
OAS could not find enough qualified workers in
the local market.
He denied OAS had no emergency
procedures and emergency drills.
"This project is not that risky, in the sense
that we don't have as much dangerous gases,
extreme work on heights, confined areas, live
electrical wires where a permit to work is
mandatory every day," he said.
"However, a job safety analysis is provided
for each job task for each employee to read,
understand and sign every day.
"At some instances in the future some places
may require a permit-to-work system, for
example extreme heights like bridges or deep
excavations or tunnels.
"Also OAS and its subcontractors are aware of
some works that will require a permit-to-work
system and certain things are being put in place to
ensure the health and safety of each employee."
He said each Monday of the month a general
HSE meeting is held at each campsite, and on
all other days of the week the foremen of each
crew has a "toolbox talk" with all his workers,
also site inspection are being done by the
National Infrastructure Development Co Ltd
(Nidco), Ministry of Works, OSHA and AECOM
on a weekly basis.
Workers line the job site of Brazilian contractor OAS Constructora on the Golconda
highway when they stopped work on Monday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
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