Oct 22, 2019 News
President of the Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis, has revealed that an oil service company, JSL International, has a bad reputation with workers in Trinidad and Tobago. It appears that the Texas-based company has now brought a similar temperament to Guyana.
In a recent interview with Kaieteur Radio, on the show ‘Guyana’s Oil & You’, the trade unionist said that an investigation of JSL has shown a number of discrepancies concerning the company’s operations in Trinidad and Tobago, which are “to a large extent, in breach of the [T&T] law.”
Lewis said that he and his colleagues have been able to bring some awareness to the company’s employees, about its sordid history in the twin-island nation. Pursuant to that, a Whatsapp group had been set up to keep those workers updated, Lewis told Kaieteur Radio.
In that group, the workers were reportedly communicated with via voice messages, and the messages were leaked to company officials.
Lewis said that, when the company found out, it threatened the workers that, if they continued to communicate in this manner with Lewis and his colleagues, disciplinary action would be taken against them.
After that happened, Lewis said that most of the employees left the group in fear.
But “what employers fail to understand [is] that you cannot stop the inevitable,” Lewis said.
He indicated that he will continue to facilitate links with the workers and to educate them about their rights.
He also posited that stronger laws are needed to treat with these companies.
JSL International is a labour supply contractor for offshore oil rigs and platforms.
Research by this publication found that the company has been protested several times by workers there, and by the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) of Trinidad and Tobago.
A T&T publication, Newsday, reported in 2017 about one of the protests the company has faced.
It states “The employees claimed there had been disregard of their collective agreements, unfair treatment, and refusal to pay injury compensation. The union also saw the protest as an act of defiance against the company which had, in the past, allegedly victimised and sent pre-action protocol letters to workers who were part of previous protests.”
One worrying statement by the union President, Ancel Roget, from Newsday, states that the union received a complaint that a man was injured while on a rig doing contract work for the company.
“The employee said he was made to wait for a number of days before being taken to shore for medical attention. Roget said, to this day, the man had not been properly compensated, the treatment he needed had not been provided and the man might be permanently incapacitated because of his injury.”
Another report from the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian states that some terminated offshore workers were protesting in March last for outstanding payments to them.
Represented by the same trade union, it was stated that 100 workers were employed under the Juniper Savannah project and claimed they are owed an estimated TT$200,000 each. The Guardian reported that the monies were owed since 2017.
The workers had protested several times.
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