ST JOHN’S, Antigua—
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We’re ready for Industrial Court!
Inland and Offshore Contractors Limited strikers say they are ready for the Industrial Court and will bring evidence of discrimination against their employer once the legal strike ends next week Wednesday.
Despite a withdrawal of strike notice by Petrotrin workers on Monday, the IOCL strikers said they will continue to stand strong and will abide by the decision of the court once the matter is arbitrated.
Speaking at the Otaheite strike camp Ronald Williams said he was pleased that nobody broke the picket line. “We have achieved peace, justice, equity and our day will come in court when we will show the discrimination we have faced,” Williams said.
Saying the workers had proved a point to IOCL, Williams said, “The IOCL contract is in jeopardy and if the contract is lost and is given to another service provider we stand ready to go to work for another provider once we get the correct wages- the minimum wage rate in Trinmar,” Williams added.
He added that the few workers who accepted individual contracts of employment, did so to their own detriment.
“As far as we know, we had no scabs. We are standing up for what is right and this is the advice I will give to all workers- Stand up for what is right and do not accept what is wrong,” Williams added. He also noted that the losses that Petrotrin suffered coupled with IOCL’s losses could have paid the striking workers 100 times over.
“We are asking for the minimum wage agreement that is enshrined in the collective agreement. We are confident that we will win in court and we are eager for that day to come,” Williams added.
Meanwhile, IOCL’s Human Resource and Industrial Relations consultant Suren Dookie said nothing was achieved by the strikers.
Admitting that only a few workers accepted individual contracts of employment, Dookie said, “The nation has suffered, the workers have suffered and the company has suffered losses too. Everybody has lost in this. Over time rates at Petrotrin went up while the production rates went down. We have a foreign exchange crisis. This strike was not successful.”
Dookie said IOCL workers wanted an 80 per cent increase in wages but this was not possible. The OWTU served strike notice on IOCL on October 20 after negotiations broke down. IOCL is one of three companies contracted to provide marine transport to Petrotrin’s Trinmar operations.