Last update: 11-Dec-2013 6:16 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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NFM to pay out $4.1 m to workers
National Flour Mills (NFM) will be paying out $4.1 million in salary and wage arrears next month following the settlement of negotiations for its monthly and hourly paid employees. The workers have received an eight per cent increase over three years in the new collective agreement between the company and the Seamen and Waterfront Workers’ Trade Union (SWWTU) for the period January 2011 to December 2013.
At the signing ceremony for the new agreement, SWWTU president Michael Annisette said while he was pleased the negotiations had been settled he was concerned about the exclusion of the union from discussions about the measures involving the company which were announced in the 2013/2014 budget. Finance Minister Larry Howai has said he was seeking strategic investors for NFM and three other state companies.
Annisette called for consultations with the union about those plans. In response, Trade Minister Vasant Bharath said: “I want to give Mr Annisette my personal assurance that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago will do nothing unless we involve the SWWTU, with regard to finding a strategic investor to be involved in any way, if at all. “I want to give my assurance to Mr Annisette and the SWWTU that any negotiations that are to take place with regard to the future of NFM will involve the SWWTU.”
Bharath said NFM has potential to have a share price around $4 and the board needs to re-examine its cost of production. “I believe the costs of manufacturing products at NFM are too high and there may be a significant amount of wastage. There may be operational inefficiencies involved and that translates into higher food prices for the consumer,” he said.
On the issue of dinding investors for NFM, Bharath said: “There are a number of organisations that have been identified by the Government as being able to accommodate a strategic investor. That may make it more attractive in terms of its ability to extract maximum from its asset-value.
“That is a policy decision that the Government has taken, that it is not a decision that is cast in concrete as to the exact state enterprises. The minister (Howai) would have given examples of some state enterprises that could lend itself to that process. “I have deferred the issue of discussions with NFM board because I felt we may not have engaged sufficiently with the union to have had that discussion publicly,” he said.
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