SWMCOL refutes union’s claims made in television interview

FLASHBACK… Workers of SWMCOL protest outside the Beetham landfill in 2019. (Image: ANISTO ALVES)

The Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL) is refuting several claims made against it by the Industrial Sanitation and General Workers Union (ISGWU), in a television interview, yesterday.

In an official statement, SWMCOL states categorically that contrary to the union’s claims, it has provided its workers with personal protective equipment (PPE). The company also asserts that its employees have not suffered a loss in earnings, are not among the lowest paid in the country, and actually have insurance coverage under the company’s life insurance and health plans.

The full text of the statement issued by SWMCOL, follows… 

SWMCOL ADDRESSES INACCURACIES PURPORTED VIA INTERVIEWS AIRED ON TV6.

The Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL) wishes to address inaccuracies aired during the TV6 News yesterday 5th May 2020. SWMCOL states categorically that the footage showing trucks and sanitation workers without PPE are not SWMCOL employees. Additionally, while SWMCOL recognizes the rights of workers to accept or reject any proposal during negotiations, we ask that information disseminated be factual and honest and does not implicate the company in any negative way 

1. Union – claims they are the lowest paid in the country in relation to sanitation workers.

SWMCOL- our lowest paid employee is currently remunerated at $15.00 more than a similar job in both the Port of Spain and San Fernando corporations. Please note, the minimum wage (daily) is $140.00; our lowest rate currently is $222.12 (a difference of $82.12), plus COLA is paid separately.

2. Union – claims they are disrespected and not considered as other essential workers.

SWMCOL – our employees enjoy benefits that other sanitation workers in  the private sector do not. They are enrolled in a non-contributory  Life Insurance and Health Plans. The Health Plan  covers  the employee , spouse and children up to the age of 19 years old. This means that the company pays a medical premium on behalf of the employee and their family . Further, these employees have a full industrial medical check-up (at no cost to them) every year, which includes, spirometry, audiometry, CBC, and urinalysis amongst other tests.

The company has also enrolled  and pays for all employees on a Life Insurance plan that covers them up to retirement, (in the case of death, their beneficiaries can access the benefit).

3. Union – the company does not supply PPE.

SWMCOL – every year, PPE (shirts, pants, face masks/respirators, boots, gloves etc) are given out in accordance with the collective agreement. Further, should there be any issue with any PPE during this period, management replaces (at no cost to the employee).

4. SWMCOL – the company has also engaged expert provider/s for the purpose of EAP; this allows the employees  and their immediate family members who may have psychological, emotional or mental issues, challenges or concerns, whether work-related or personal, to access expert advice to treat with same. Again, at no cost to the employee.

5. SWMCOL- While, as an organisation, SWMCOL is cognizant of the reality that some businesses have either reduced wages or reduced staff, SWMCOL is one of the few companies still hiring persons. Further, during this period, no worker suffered loss of earnings. The company has chosen to engage in negotiations with a view of adjusting the salaries of the daily-paid workers upward with a proposed wage increase.

SWMCOL is disappointed that the Industrial Sanitation and General Workers’ Union (ISGWU) saw it necessary to vent their concerns via the media while both parties have agreed to continue discussions.

The next meeting between the ISGWU and SWMCOL is carded for Friday 8th May 2020.