Caribbean News Round-up


T&T Gov’t urges companies not to use ‘recession’ to send workers home

Dr Keith Rowley
Dr Keith Rowley

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is calling on businesses here not to use the downturn in economic activities here as an excuse to dismiss workers.

Speaking in Parliament, Friday, Rowley acknowledged that the country is facing “this period of challenges” and urged the business community not to send home workers.

He was responding to a question from the Opposition after the iron and steel company, ArcelorMittal last week sent home an estimated 600 workers.

The Steel Workers Union of SWUTT Trinidad and Tobago (SWUTT) denounced the decision of the ArcelorMittal Point Lisas, a subsidiary of the world’s leading steel and mining company, to lay off the workers.

On Friday, the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) called on the company to reverse its decision.

“While they are blaming recessionary times, we are convinced that Mittal has realised they cannot continue to abuse contract workers and as such, they want to go somewhere else where they can exploit workers,” JTUM President Joseph Remy told reporters.

The SWUTT said that only a few workers would remain on the plant for maintenance purposes from the period December 7 to January 15 next year.

In its statement, Arcelor Mittal, said it had been unable to reach an agreement with the union on a proposal “for workers with accrued vacation days to proceed on paid vacation, while workers who do not have vacation leave to engage in alternative functions on a temporary basis outside of their normal duties”.

It said that as a result of the failure to reach an agreement it “has had no option but to begin a process of laying-off workers”.

Rowley told legislators that his administration plans to intervene in the situation and would meet with both the union and the steel company.


Gonsalves sworn in as PM despite protest from Opposition

Ralph Gonsalves
Ralph Gonsalves

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) – Leader of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) Dr Ralph Gonsalves was yesterday sworn in as prime minister of this Caribbean Community (Caricom) country even though Opposition supporters staged demonstrations claiming that Wednesday’s general election had been rigged in his favour.

Gonsalves, who won an unprecedented fourth consecutive term in office, was sworn in even though leader of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace told reporters he had asked the Governor General not to swear in the 69-year-old Gonsalves.

Eustace, 70, told reporters that the NDP, which, according to preliminary results won seven of the 15 seats in Wednesday’s general elections, “would never accept” the results of the elections.

Eustace, who joined his party supporters in the Central Leeward constituency where calls for a recount of the ballots case was taking place, said that his candidate Benjamin Exeter had won the poll even though the preliminary results gave former foreign affairs minister Sir Louis Straker victory.

“As I mentioned before there are irregularities, there are ballot boxes that are not sealed both here and in North Leeward and we are not conceding, we are not accepting the results.

“We are standing firm (and) until we get a very clear picture, he (Gonsalves) should not be sworn in today because the results of the elections are not final,” he told reporters.

The NDP supporters, clad in their yellow jerseys, claimed that several ballot boxes were missing and were demanding that either the Electoral Office rerun the poll in that constituency or announce that Exeter had won the election.

At one stage, there was a close confrontation between Sir Louis and Eustace with the police having to intervene to keep the two veteran politicians apart.

Sir Louis had criticised the decision of Eustace to bring supporters to the police station where the re-counting was taking place, but Eustace insisted that he was right since the ruling party had conspired to cheat the population of its victory.


Woman’s body found inside barrel

Crime-scene[Trinidad Newsday] – THE decomposing body of a woman was found stuffed in an iron barrel at Havelock Street in Curepe, shortly after 4.30 pm on Thursday.

According to reports, officers of the St Joseph Police Station were alerted by residents of the area who complained of about a foul stench emanating from a warehouse compound. A party of officers under Sgt Katwaroo went to the scene and saw a water barrel on the compound of the warehouse where the stench was emanating from.

Officers removed the lid of the barrel and found the body of a woman who appeared to have serious wounds about the body. The area was cordoned off and a District Medical Officer as well as homicide officers were summoned to the scene.

The body was ordered removed to the Forensic Science Centre and up until late yesterday no proper identification was made on the identity of the woman.

Police investigators are calling on members of the public who may have information on the identity to come forward and assist. No autopsy can be carried until the body is properly identified. Investigations are continuing.


One of six escaped MoBay prisoners shot dead

POLICE INVOLVED SHOOTING[Jamaica Observer] – One of the six men who escaped from the Freeport police lock-up last month was shot and killed during an alleged gunfight with members of the St James police in the parish.

He has been identified as 21-year-old Benjamin Stephens of Dias, Lucea, Hanover. Stephens was facing a murder charge.

Reports are that, acting upon intelligence, the police went to a remote community in the parish called Burnt Ground where Stephens was said to be hiding out, when they came under heavy gunfire from two men.

The cops took evasive action and returned the fire. When the shooting subsided Stephens was found suffering from gunshot wounds. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

However, his crony managed to elude the police. The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) has commenced their probe into the incident.

Meanwhile, five other men who escaped custody remain on the run. They are:

  • Kelvin Hodge, 30, labourer of Barnett Town, St James who was charged for four counts of murder.
  • Randy Murray, 30, labourer of Landillo, Phase 6, Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland who was charged for illegal possession of firearm.
  • Marcus Robinson, 34, higgler of Dome Street, Montego Bay, St James who was charged for illegal possession of firearm.
  • Gregory Roberts, otherwise called ‘Greg’, 32 labourer of Maroon Town, St James who was charged for robbery with aggravation.
  • Shaniel Luton, 26, of Farm Heights, St James who was convicted of murder and scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, December 4.

Commander of the St James Police Division, SSP Steve McGregor, has vowed to capture the remaining escapees.

“We have assistance from Kingston and from the army and we will continue to go at them,” the divisional commander told the OBSERVER ONLINE.

He also warned family members and friends not to provide a haven for the fugitives. Reports are that on Monday, November 30, between 4:00 am and 5:00am, the six prisoners escaped from their cell by breaching “the system through faulty plumbing fixtures” in the bathroom area.

The escape of the men has been blamed on negligence.



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