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TTCA president: ‘Unrealistic’ for construction workers to expect energy sector pay
The labour market in T&T is in “crisis” over people’s unrealistic expectations of salary levels, said Mikey Joseph, president of the T&T Contractors’ Association.
“We have a crisis of expectation. Everyone believes they should be working for energy sector wages. Construction is hard work. We have been building many energy plants and these plants have been priced internationally using US dollar wages for their skilled people. In the United States, certain types of the minimum wage jobs are US$18 an hour. So when a welder says he is not working for less than TT$60 an hour, to locals, that is expensive. So every other welder in T&T believes he should get that too, which the local construction sector cannot afford,” Joseph told the Business Guardian last Saturday by phone.
He said a welder at the liquefied natural gas-producing Atlantic can be paid $80 an hour because its product prices are determined on the international markets.
“They are making goods to export at an international price in US dollars. Working in different parts of the economy is different. Everyone feels they should work for energy sector wages,” he said.
He said a situation has arisen where skilled people, after having worked in the energy sector, refuse to work in lower paying jobs.
“So after the energy sector, they migrate to other countries. I believe we have lost about 300 welders to Alberta, Canada, over the last year. We are losing experienced people,” he said.