Yvonne Webb and Alana Boodoo-Suraj
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Lake Asphalt staff accept five per cent increase
President General of the Contractors and General Workers Trade Union (CGWTU) Ainsley Matthews is defending his decision to accept a five per cent wage increase on behalf of Lake Asphalt employees. The agreement was signed without the intervention of a third party and after 17 meetings over a 15 month period.
As other trade unions held out for settlements in double digits for their members, on February 9 Matthews signed on the dotted line for a five per cent wage increase for workers in three bargaining units covering the period 2009 to 2011. The signing took place before the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) was able to get a nine percent wage increase for workers at State-owned Petrotrin.
Matthews admitted he has been criticised by other trade unions for accepting the “five per cent cap” being offered by government for State run organisations. He explained: “We not striking for old money.” According to Matthews, negotiations are scheduled to begin soon for a new collective agreement for the period 2011 to 2014.
“I don’t care who the hell say we take five per cent. The five per cent we took actually adds up to between nine to 23 per cent increase,” Matthews told the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, yesterday. “The workers I represent are happy and delighted with that five per cent.” He explained that in addition to the five percent, the CGWTU successfully negotiated an increased consolidated COLA for the three years for hourly/weekly, junior and senior staff .
“We successfully argued that the COLA of the junior staff should be on par with the senior staff and for the hourly/weekly workers to get a very tangible increase.” In addition, the union was able to secure an increase in the travel grant and negotiate a new savings plan. All LATT workers also received a one off payment of $10,000. “While we do not accept the principle of a cap, thanks to that cap, we were able to work harder and come up with more ingenuous ways of negotiating,” Matthews declared.
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