Retrenchment likely at Gravel and Concrete

A number of workers at the state-owned Gravel Concrete & Emulsion Corporation could likely face retrenchment from their jobs.

According to Public Utilities Minister, Gregory Bowen, the Corporation is facing foreclosure from its bank, and some of the workers may have to be laid off in an effort to save the company.

Minister Bowen said that Gravel & Concrete has an outstanding loan of over $2m with the bank and the Corporation is being restructured in the face of the grave financial difficulties.

He stated that Gravel & Concrete has been defaulting on its payment for about one year and the newly elected Board of Directors headed by Martin Thomas will have to take certain decisions in order to save the cash-strapped company.

“If it means that workers would have to be sent home, they (the Board) must just look at what must be done and do it in a manner that the workers will not suffer unduly,” he said.

Last year, a decision was taken by the former Board of Directors to send home some workers but it was met with stiff resistance from the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union, which took to the streets in protest.

Meanwhile, the Government of Grenada has given a commitment to provide the Grenada Trades Union Council (TUC) with a permanent headquarters.

This announcement was made by Labour Minister Elvin Nimrod while addressing workers last week Wednesday during their annual Labour Day celebrations at La Sagesse, St. David’s.

However, Minister Nimrod did not give details of a timetable for when the headquarters will be built, nor where it will be located.

TUC currently operates in an office on Green Street, St. George’s that is owned by the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union.

A previous NNP government did not give the green light to a submission made by TUC to sell them a government building on Lowther’s Lane in St. George’s to erect the TUC headquarters.

The new NNP administration of Prime Minister Mitchell has adopted a friendlier attitude to the local trade unions and is wooing several trade union leaders to its side including President-General of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU), Chester Humphrey.

In his address to workers on May Day, Minister Nimrod announced that his government has also committed itself to removing taxes on severance pay given to workers.

He also pledged government’s commitment to amend Section 66 (1) of the Labour Relations Act, which speaks of reasonable time for workers to return to the workplace at the end of industrial disputes.

He said government wants to make sure that the amendment brings some certainty in terms of time so that employers would be obligated to readmit any worker who had been on strike.

That section came into prominence when the strike at the Grenada Breweries Limited was called off, but management failed to take back the workers immediately.

Last year, the former Labour representative in the Senate, Chester Humphrey had brought a Private Member’s Bill in the Upper House of Parliament, which met the approval of the Senate. However, the Bill failed to make it to the Lower House.

May Day was celebrated this year under the theme, “Creating A New Environment For the Social, Economic Advancement of Workers.”

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