'Enough is enough'

Operations halted at New Day bauxite plant as workers protest

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Almost 200 hourly paid workers at New Day Aluminum (Jamaica) Limited in St Ann went on a four-hour strike yesterday, disrupting operations at the bauxite plant.

In fact, the angry workers used yesterday's industrial action to send a stern warning, declaring that they are prepared to continue their protest until they hear from the Government.

According to the workers, they were forced to take industrial action after efforts to have their contracts renewed have been consistently delayed. They blamed the Ministry of Labour for the current setback, stating that the ministry has not sent the 'terms of reference' needed for the process to renew their contracts.

“The workers reach a stage where enough is enough. We are waiting too long — nearly three years of expired contract and nothing can be done. Enough is enough,” said Alfred Hemmings, senior union delegate of the University and Allied Workers Union (UAWU) representing approximately 180 employees.

He said a meeting was set two months ago for the union delegates to meet with the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) for September 19; however, the meeting was postponed. Another meeting was planned for yesterday through to Thursday, September 27. Hemmings said that meeting was postponed because the Ministry of Labour had not submitted the outstanding document to the IDT.

“We have an outstanding contract. The contract expired from 2016. The money that we used to get, the company stop pay wi,” Hemmings claimed.

According to the senior union delegate, approximately 95 per cent of the operations at the company were affected by yesterday's protest.

“The ship in port not loading; the train not running; dryer shut down,” he added.

“We will not budge until we hear from the Government because the workers will do it today, tomorrow, until they hear from the Government,” he added.

Another union delegate, Andre Hinds, explained: “From May 2016 the company has cut back on some of our wages. We lose some benefits before that, and wi still cannot get back those benefits. The company put them on hold for a specific time, but now it's indefinite.”

The workers believe they are being unfairly treated.

“We feel like we have been unjustly treated [for] years now... We have been through all manner of sacrifices. We have given up almost everything. Benefits have been taken to keep the company afloat...” employee Damion West said.

“These people are inhumane and we are sick and tired of it... The new owner said he has bought this company with all liabilities, so why are we still suffering?” West added.

— Renae Dixon

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