Hours after workers of Lake Asphalt Trinidad & Tobago (LATT) went down on their knees and begged for their salaries, their prayers were answered.
In a release, the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries stated that it has urgently sought and obtained Cabinet approval to provide a subvention to assist the company with payment of expenses, including wages. In addition, the ministry’s personnel also communicated with the Finance Ministry to prioritise the subvention payment.
This came after workers, led by Contractors and General Workers Trade Union representative, Raeburn Noble, made a desperate plea to the company and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to pay them. The workers complained that they had not received a salary in five weeks.
Earlier in the day yesterday at the company’s offices at La Brea, Noble had pleaded, “We on we knees and we begging pay we, we salary, please! What we go do again. Pay we, we salary, please!
He said the hourly/weekly were not paid for five weeks while the monthly-paid workers were not paid their August and September salaries.
Two weeks ago, the union representatives were told by the directors during a virtual meeting that they have no money to pay salaries and had asked the government for a subvention.
Noble said, “We say, why we working. They say no we have to work to get paid so we’ve been working. The Board of Directors now, the CEO are complaining that the government is taking too long to release the subvention so we could get paid because they shame to say they buss the business. They don’t want to tell Trinidad and Tobago Asphalt buss so is a charade and we suffering during the charade. We are asking Prime Minister Rowley please to use his office to ensure that we at Lake Asphalt who worked for our monies already, that we be paid.”
Noble said the workers were concerned about their job which was why they did not protest earlier.
However, the ministry stated the company’s financial state of affairs is unacceptable.
“The Government, via the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries, is currently looking at how LATT can become self-sustainable as it is not acceptable for LATT to continue depending on subvention from the Treasury to cover its wages and expenses,” the statement said.
The Government release further said Energy Minister Stuart Young has prioritised the pursuit of the plans to make LATT self-sustainable and intends to approach the Cabinet shortly with proposals along these lines.
In a statement prior to the ministry’s release, the company stated that it, as many other organisations across the globe, has been facing some challenges, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
LATT also thanked its employees for their demonstration of love for the company, their understanding, commitment and patience in the midst of their challenges.