WORKERS at Lake Asphalt (LATT) are ready to rumble over a delay in the payment of wages and salaries for the past two months and counting.
Admitting the delay, CEO Roger Wiggins has said the company is committed to finding a solution to settle its debt.
Joseph Phillip, president general of the representing Contractors and General Workers Trade Union (CGWTU), told Newsday, “Workers are suffering.”
He said all categories of workers – hourly, daily and some monthly-rated – have been affected.
“People are likely to lose their wives, their homes – but nobody is listening to us. I spoke to the board and they themselves don’t know what is going on.”
The union wrote to Energy Minister Stuart Young on September 10 telling him workers were diligently operating within the constraints of the pandemic guidelines for the good of their organisation and asked him to intervene to end their suffering.
On September 18, three trade union federations – JTUM, NATUC and FITUN – also called on Young to immediately address this "vexing" non-payment issue, saying it was a great insult that whilst government ministers were receiving their full salaries, benefits and allowances, the very survival of LATT workers and their families was threatened.
In response, Wiggins in a statement to Newsday, said Lake Asphalt, like many organisations around the globe, has been facing some challenges, particularly during the covid19 pandemic.
“The reality that we are not immune to what is taking place globally is evident, as we continue to navigate our way through the downturn in both the local and international economies, the shrinkage in our traditional markets as well as a reduction in road-paving activities.
“Unfortunately, one of the major effects of these challenges has been a delay in the timely payment of salaries and wages to both our weekly and monthly paid employees.
“We assure all parties that we are working assiduously with management, the board of directors and all our stakeholders and customers to regularise this situation in the shortest possible time frame.”
He said Government had demonstrated its commitment towards working with the company even as it works with all its stakeholders during this challenging time.
He said it was currently exploring all its options while maintaining focus on strategic initiatives that would see some new products coming on stream soon.
“Lake Asphalt continues to work with the various unions and stakeholders in the asphalt industry during this time so that the impact on all can be adequately managed.”
He also thanked employees for their demonstration of love for the company, their understanding, commitment and patience in the midst of its challenges.
“Their commitment makes all the difference," Wiggins said.