OILFIELDS Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) officials said yesterday that the trade union would not stand by and allow about 170 Unilever employees to “lose their jobs, and, worse yet, lose their benefits”.
So said its president general Ancel Roget, as he led a protest outside Unilever compound, Champs Fleurs, yesterday. Roget also said it was unfair for the company to send employees home, and, then outsource labour to get the same job done. Roget was joined by the OWTU’s first vice-president Ricky Benny, education and research officer Ozzi Warwick and general secretary Richard Lee.
Braving the inclement weather, the trade union members sang songs of solidarity, including “With a rope and a mango tree, we will hang the company.”
Unilever employs operators, technicians and cashiers who produce household and cleaning products at the facility for the local and regional markets.
Roget said: “It’s a mad rush to send workers home. Several months ago, there was restructuring of the company. People met with the union to ensure there was cooperation with the company to have no displacement of workers. There are options to ensure workers’ jobs are preserved. They (Unilever) said they can no longer continue with the number of workers. No union likes to discuss sending home workers. If workers are sent home, it would add to the situation where thousands of workers (Yara/Petrotrin/TSTT/TCL) are losing their jobs.”
Roget added: “Workers are entitled to certain provisions and entitlements. You can’t be redundant if you have the job performed by someone else. You are sending workers home and then outsourcing labour. A lot of madness happening and the union has to bring some sanity. This is going to head to the Industrial Court (St Vincent Street), where the company would be found wanting.”
Roget also said it was necessary to look at the exploitation of workers and the importation of sub-standard products which compromise health and safety standards. He also said another meeting between the union and the company is scheduled for December 13. On the possibility of Unipet sending home about 600 employees, Roget said: “We will speak about it at another time. We will have much to say about it.”