TGI imports cement to avert local crisis
…as T&T strike takes toll
A breakdown in wage talks and subsequent strike at Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) in the twin-island republic on Tuesday has forced the local subsidiary to import shipments from Jamaica to meet local demands.
However, the company warned yesterday that there is likely to be some market disruptions.
According to a statement from TCL Guyana Inc. (TGI), it will be “carefully” managing its inventory over the next few days to avoid a possible temporary interruption.
The company admitted that it is low on stock, but the TGI brand remains available at hardware outlets across the country.
“…every effort is being made to capably manage distribution from the terminal to allow the longest possible supply throughout the different regions, which the company serves.”
A shipment of 5,200 metric tonnes from TGI’s sister company, Caribbean Cement Company Limited, Jamaica, is Guyana-bound and likely to arrive at the Water Street terminal by next Wednesday.
“This represents 10 days of stock in Guyana, and the beginning of a cycle, which will ensure regular shipments from Jamaica until the normal supply chain is resumed…Arawak Cement Company Limited, Barbados, another member of the TCL Group, will also continue its supply of bagged cement to Guyana,” the statement informed.
TGI yesterday insisted that it is committed to supplying the market with only the highest quality cement manufactured under internationally acceptable standards. “All the cement companies in the TCL Group meet and exceed the international standards for both Ordinary Portland cement and blended Portland-Pozzolan cement. As well, all the cement manufacturing companies in the TCL Group are ISO 140001:2004 certified.”
A booming construction industry in Guyana has fuelled a healthy demand for building supplies such as cement, with importers shipping from Venezuela and even Colombia.
According to the Trinidad Guardian newspaper yesterday, workers at Trinidad Cement Limited walked off the job on Tuesday following a breakdown in wage talks.
The union is seeking a 16 per cent wage increase, and is unwilling to settle for anything below double-digit figures. It is also negotiating for an improved package for casual workers. However, the company has put a 6.5 per cent increase offer on the table over a three-year period.
Vice President of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, Carlton Gibson, served the notices on the cement company’s management and the Trinidad Packaging Limited, following which 600 workers were instructed to start strike action immediately.
This action forced the closure of the plant for the remainder of the day, and delivery trucks being turned away.
Noting that cement has a shelf life, the Vice President expressed hope that the company’s management would put the country’s interest first before there was a likely shortage, as the strike is expected to continue for 90 days.
However, he said the union was still open to meet during the strike to continue discussions and find a resolution to the matter in the interest of everyone.
As it relates to casual workers, Gibson said there were several vacancies which still had to be filled, and their general treatment improved.