Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force have been called to the West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO) in Ewarton, St Catherine, as payment issues have caused tension to rise between workers and the company’s management.
At publication time, some 350 workers were protesting; a handful of security guards stood behind a gate padlocked to keep protestors at bay; and a police vehicle arrived at the entrance to the property.
Representative of the Union of Clerical Administrative and Supervisory Employees, Garth Cheese, accused WINDALCO of not honouring aspects of a recent ruling handed down by the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT).
The IDT award is applicable for the period 2015 to 2017, the union representative said.
He stated that the IDT had ordered WINDALCO to:
– Give a 4 percent increase in wages
– Pay $2000 per week for laundry allowance
– Give a 5 percent increase in productivity incentives
– Provide workers with two pants and three shirts per year
Cheese told THE BEACON that one of the main issues is that WINDALCO opted to delay a payout it promised to make tomorrow.
“The money that we are supposed to be paid, they are now telling us they can’t pay us the entirety of it,” he explained.
“They were supposed to pay us tomorrow. They are saying they can’t pay us – and they didn’t do that until Thursday evening. The workers find that to be disrespectful.”
Cheese further claimed that WINDALCO is seeking to shorten the payment that should be made to hourly paid workers in order to pay another group known as team leaders.
“They took the money come to pay hourly workers and split it up for team leaders. We did not go to the IDT for team leaders; we went to the IDT for hourly paid workers,” he said.
Cheese stated that the workers, in response, found it necessary to protest.
“We came over to the Personnel Building to talk to the Managing Director [of WINDALCO] and, when we came over here, we see over 30 security and chains on the gate, and they locked us out. This infuriated the workers even more,” he said.
Meanwhile, during a similar protest over the said payment issues on September 9, Cheese told THE BEACON that workers are worried that they may not be paid when WINDALCO’s parent company, UC RUSAL, start feeling the full effect of sanctions imposed by the United States. He noted that the sanctions are likely to take full effect as early as next month.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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