Petrojam subsidiary facing closure

Petrojam subsidiary facing closure

Thursday, August 13, 2020

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THE union representing workers at Petrojam subsidiary, Petrojam Ethanol Limited (PEL), says it will be calling on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to intervene in the proposed closure of the entity, which could see workers being sent home by the end of this month.

It is understood that the energy ministry called an urgent meeting yesterday with the union to discuss the closure of the entity, which is set for August 31.

“We are asking the prime minister not to allow the management or the ministry to take such action. The labour relations code is being violated as there have been no discussions with the union [on the proposed closure]. We don’t see how the company can proceed without following the labour relations code of 1976,” general secretary of the Union of Clerical Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE) John Levy told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

He said nine positions would be affected and that the proposal is for the functions of PEL to be transferred to Petrojam, but that the workers would have to undertake an application process, which they had already gone through at the start of their employment with PEL. He argued that there should be no move to integrate PEL with Petrojam without automatically subsuming the workers as well.

According to Levy, based on its establishment, Petrojam is understaffed and could easily absorb the workers without putting them through an application process.

“On the eve of a general election, that matter should be put in abeyance,” Levy insisted.

Meanwhile, there are issues affecting another Petrojam entity, with workers of the Jamaica Aircraft Refuelling Services (JARS) said to be uneasy at this time over unpaid salaries.

Yesterday, UCASE, which represents the 10 affected personnel, warned that “there could be a problem at the two international airports as the aircraft refuelers cannot find the financial resources to turn up for work, neither can find meal nor transportation, and cannot feed their families”.

According to Levy, the workers have only been paid three weeks’ salary in the past three months, effectively receiving one week out of each month’s salary. “It is so bad that some of the workers have taken home zero net pay since April due to loans and other financial commitments. No effort has been made to assist these workers despite pleadings from the union on several instances,” the UCASE officer said.

— Alphea Saunders

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