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SWUTT fights lay-off of 494 workers in Trinidad and Tobago

18 February, 2016Workers at the Trinidad and Tobago Steel Workers’ Union (SWUTT), an IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, held a protest march on 15 February after ArcelorMittal laid-off 494 workers.

The march sought to put pressure on the company to reinstate the 494 workers, who were laid off from 3 February to 13 March.

“Our protest was successful and involved employees of the three companies affected by AMPL Managing (ArcelorMittal, Centrin and Tube City). We are standing up to this multinational company. They should explain what they plan to do with our members, who are their employees and citizens of Trinidad and Tobago,” said Christopher Henry, union president.

The company has adopted a policy of lay-offs since the end of 2015 in response to the international crisis that has hit the steel industry. A few days before Christmas, 480 workers were informed that they would be laid off indefinitely.

Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL general secretary, wrote to Robert Bellisle, CEO of ArcelorMittal Point Lisas Limited, expressing his extreme concern about the lay-offs and about the way the company acted. He asked the company to negotiate with the workers to find a way of getting them back to work.

Thanks to national and international solidarity and the pressure put on by the company’s workers, the laid off workers went back to work. However, a few weeks later, the company laid off 494 workers until mid-March.

Bellisle wrote to Raina to assure him that the company believes in social dialogue and is committed to maintaining good relations with the unions and employee representatives. IndustriALL reiterated the need to get the laid off workers back to work and asked the company to meet SWUTT and IndstriALL representatives to try and find a solution that would ensure continued production and employment. 

Fernando Lopes, IndustriALL assistant general secretary said:

We cannot allow Arcelor Mittal to use the excuse that there is a crisis in the global steel industry because of dumping by China, Turkey and others to close its plant in Trinidad and Tobago. We demand practical action by the company and the government to maintain production at Point Lisas, because this is vitally important for national and regional development.