Attack on home of TCL chemist
By LAUREL WILLIAMS Tuesday, March 20 2012
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UNDER ATTACK: TCL chemist Wayne Benjamin whose home was attacked on Sunday, speaks to reporters yesterday at TCL compound in Claxton Bay. ...
THE home of a senior employee of Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) was attacked Sunday night when persons unknown, threw a crude, homemade incendiary device commonly called a “flambeau” or “molotov cocktail”, which while exploding failed to burn down the house.
TCL employee Wayne Benjamin, a chemist with the company for over ten years, yesterday insisted he will not be intimidated by the action and will continue to report for duty. No one was injured and footage of the incident has been handed over to police officers at the St Margaret’s Police Station.
The incident came less than a week after strike breakers, mainly women, came under a vicious attack while in a maxi-taxi to collect their cars at a compound in Macaulay, a short distance from the Claxton Bay plant.
During a press conference yesterday at TCL’s compound located along Southern Main Road in Claxton Bay, Benjamin said the incident occurred at 11.23 pm on Sunday while he was preparing meals for the following day.
Benjamin said he heard his neighbour’s dogs barking followed by a loud noise. On checking the front of his home, he saw fire on a strip of concrete. Benjamin’s address was withheld by TCL and police officials for security reasons.
Benjamin further explained he did his own investigations and found out that two persons threw two lighted flambeaux in the yard. However the glass bottles used to hold the flammable substance broke into pieces and the fire burnt out shortly after.
While it was the first time his home has come under attack, Benjamin said it came as no surprise since he received information last Saturday of a threat to his home. Workers embarked on strike action at TCL’s main entrance after the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) and management failed to reach an agreement for increased wages. Some of the workers have since returned to work, having accepted individual contracts.
Last Thursday, 24 workers who broke the strike at TCL were leaving the factory in a maxi when, unknown assailants threw stones at the vehicle smashing four windows. Yesterday, Benjamin added the homes of two colleagues of the laboratory department of TCL were stoned.
“These so-called random and unrelated attacks have been directed on persons who are very vociferous in not supporting the strike. My name was placed on Facebook to be thrown out of the union. It was also placed on a ‘Scabby’ list at the strike camp. It seems I am under attack because of the stance I have taken not to support the strike action,” Benjamin said.
The chemist noted that freedom of choice, among other freedoms, is part of his Constitutionally guaranteed rights.
“TT is a free country. It is uncanny that I have lived 44 years in this world and never had any issue with anybody. All of a sudden a strike has started and there are suddenly all types of issues taking place. It comes on the heels of me passing there (near strike camp) and persons saying things like, ‘be careful’, ‘we know where you living’ and ‘you safe here, not where you live’,” Benjamin said.
TCL Human Resource Manager, Keith Johnson, told reporters yesterday the union was setting up another strike camp near to the Teak Road entrance of TCL and yesterday morning oil was discovered along the roadway at the driveway of the company.
Pointing blame at the striking workers, Johnson noted: “They threw oil to debar any vehicle from entering or leaving that entrance. That is totally ridiculous because it goes to show the union has increased their intimidatory tactics.”
Speaking to reporters at the strike camp yesterday TCL Branch President, Lawrence Reneaud, said he cannot comment on things he knew nothing about. He reiterated the workers have been engaging in peaceful picketing.
“ I do not know anything about any oil. We always have peaceful strike. Anything negative happen in Trinidad, because we are on strike, they are blaming this camp. On Saturday a tyre from a truck blew out on the compound. If that had happened outside, they would have blamed us,” Reneaud said.