Union wants talks on Lake Asphalt future before election

Joseph Phillip, president general of the Contractors and General Workers Union.  PHOTO BY VIDYA THURAB
Joseph Phillip, president general of the Contractors and General Workers Union. PHOTO BY VIDYA THURAB

THE CONTRACTORS and General Workers Trade Union (C&GWTU) wants a discussion on the future of Lake Asphalt (LATT) before the general election.

Union president Joseph Phillip wants the Prime Minister to have Energy Minister Franklin Khan meet with the union before August 10

Phillip said the union and workers feel disrespected by Khan. He said Rowley advised the union to talk to Khan, so it has been trying to arrange a meeting with him for the past ten months.

O n July 23 the union received a letter from Khan's office saying he was unable to meet with it. No reason was given.

“I am disappointed. This is the height of disrespect.

"The union has been writing Khan since September 2019 for an opportunity to meet and discuss the future of Lake Asphalt. He has been putting us off.

"He went away and came back and now just before an election – we don’t know if the government will change – he is unable to meet with us?” Phillip questioned.

“People in La Brea ketching their...Look, nah, man, I does get vex. That is the only industry we have now in La Brea, and if that is taken from us we would be in real pain.

“Pitch black, but we go turn we back," he said, threatening to boycott the August 10 general election.

CEO Roger Wiggins earlier this year denied the financially troubled company was facing closure or that the board and management had intentions of axing the 200-plus employees.

Wiggings said the company was revising its strategic plan and key initiatives were expected to be rolled out in several months to increase its revenue stream.

But the advent of covid19 saw the company being shut down for several months. Phillip said since the restart of the company there has been little or no activity and workers are uncomfortable

Former LATT board member and PNM candidate for La Brea Stephen McClashie said even though the world of asphalt is changing, LATT still has a future.

Mc Clashie, who quit the board to enter politics, said the company has been competing with synthetics which can be produced more cheaply than natural asphalt.

“The competition we are facing globally has changed from the 1960s to where we are now competing in a marketplace that has never existed before.

“We have to spend a lot of time and effort redefining our product and making it a lot more user-friendly than it was in the past. We are in the process of changing pitch from a solid form to a powdered form so that we can compete.”

He said the company had decided to develop more downstream products rather than selling pitch wholesale, and in the process the cash flow had taken a hit.

“So yes, the organisation is challenged, but it is not challenged in a way that we can’t find different approaches to keep it alive and well. There is still a future for LATT.”


"Union wants talks on Lake Asphalt future before election"

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