It is likely that workers of Unilever Caribbean Limited will be sent home with Christmas just a few weeks away.
Neil Mc Eachnie who is the branch representative of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) at Unilever told the Guardian by phone yesterday he was unsure how many workers will be sent home.
The OWTU is the recognised majority union at Unilever.
Earlier this year it was reported that that the company was considering sending home 285 workers.
Mc Eachnie said that he was informed yesterday by other officers of the branch that an email was sent alerting workers of a meeting to be held and workers were informed by line managers to be present at specific meeting rooms.
“It was my understanding that when workers assembled in the meeting rooms around 2 pm, they were advised by the company that the company had taken the decision to progress their retrenchment exercise.”
He said workers were given a slip with their names on it and a time to return.
“They were informed by this slip to return tomorrow for further information. I anticipate that the approach to this restructuring exercise will occur in two phases. The first phase will see the retrenchment of part of the workforce. Subsequently, the other part of the workforce will be retrenched. Eventually, the entire unionized workforce will be retrenched.”
Currently, there are 286 workers that the OWTU represents.
Mc Eachnie observed that there has been no official communication with the union as yet on specifically when the retrenchment will take place.
“I anticipate by tomorrow workers will know their fate.”
He blames Unilever for “poor management’ that has resulted in this and predicts that they will relocate manufacturing to another part of the world, where other workers will be exploited.
In August, Unilever in a statement said: “In the spirit of securing the long-term operations of the company, it is currently reviewing its operations in the context of a weak domestic economy and a challenging global environment. For the past few weeks, UCL has been in discussions with stakeholders, including the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU)—the recognised majority union for workers employed by the company—about the future of UCL’s operations in Trinidad and Tobago. At this point, no decisions have been taken on the future path of the company and work continues as usual.”
The company said it is developing strategies to respond to stiff competition from imported products, depressed market conditions and changes in consumer buying patterns.
The Guardian reached out to Unilever’s office to get a comment on the matter but was told by security that no one was present and to call again the following day.