Workers protest again at WINDALCO, but for a different reason

Several workers from West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO) in the Ewarton area of St Catherine protested today, November 29, but not over the issues that sparked their previous protests.

They are now fuming over what they said is the company’s failure to live up to an agreement to make a 15 percent retroactive payment to each worker.

“The company owed us 5 percent of our wages, which we were supposed to get with a 15 percent productivity incentive,” said Garth Cheese, representative of the Union of Clerical Administrative and Supervisory Employees.

He stated that, as a result of the company’s purported agreement to make the payment, the union did not put that issue among the contentious matters it brought before the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT).

Cheese stated that, after the IDT ruled on the other matters before it, WINDALCO is now refusing to make the 15 percent payment it had promised.

“The company is saying, when this payment was offered [to the workers], we did not say we would take it, and so they don’t think they should pay us now,” Cheese told The Beacon.

He stated that the union, in its quest for clarification, subsequently wrote to the IDT. “The IDT said it did not have to make a ruling on that [15 percent] because it was already agreed on between the union and the company at the local level,” added Cheese.

He explained that the union later wrote to the Ministry of Labour seeking additional clarification, but WINDALCO missed the first meeting date set.

Cheese declared that the employees have no intention to give up the 15 percent retroactive payment, which, according to him, means as much as $80,000 to some workers.

“The company doesn’t wish to pay us any money,” he claimed while accusing the company of using scare tactics. “We are going to be protesting until we get this money,” Cheese added.

The workers, in recent times, staged a number of protests over other issues of alleged non-payment by WINDALCO, which is owned by UC RUSAL out of Russia. Most of the previous issues, however, have been resolved.

By Horace Mills, Journalist

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