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Truckers go back to work

Truckers  go back  to work

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Money talks!

This adage has proven true in the impasse between C.O. Williams Construction Limited and the truckers employed with the company on the new bypass road being constructed at Argyle.{{more}}

The truckers, who had halted work since Thursday, November 6, 2008, protesting that C.O. Williams Construction Limited owed some of them for up to six months work – a sum totaling between EC$4 and 5 million dollars, are now back on the job after receiving payment.

When Searchlight met with the truckers last week Thursday, they stated that they had lost all confidence in the local management and would not return to work until they met with the company’s Regional Manager, John Thompson, who is based in Barbados.

A meeting planned with Thompson for Thursday, November 13, 2008, never materialized, and after several calls to the C.O.Williams main office at Villa, they were told to return the following day at 11 a.m.

On Friday, November 14, the truckers returned to Argyle only to be stood up again. After several telephone calls by de facto leader of the truckers Gersham Thomas, the truckers were told to travel to the main office at Villa. That trip too, turned out to be in vain. “We all in haste came down to Villa just to be told that Mr. Thompson and Mr. (Douglas) Wilson (C.O. Williams local manager) are out at the airport,” said a disappointed and irate Thomas.

He stated vehemently: “This is gross disrespect! I am extremely disappointed and I feel betrayed, and I am sure all truckers are sharing the same sentiment that I am sharing right now because Mr. Thompson, I think, is a very credible man. In my opinion was, until now.”

Thomas added: “I really don’t understand. What is there for them to run and hide from? We are the truckers. If we have a problem why can’t they convene a meeting with us after telling us this is what they were going to do?”

With Thompson gone, Wilson returned to face the fire. He confirmed to the truckers that Mr. Thompson had indeed left the state for Barbados.

“It’s unfortunate. He spent most of the morning running around getting things sorted out to pay you today. Unfortunately, he had to get back to Barbados. He’s got company business to do there. That’s the truth of the matter. It’s not like if he has run away from you or anything like that or didn’t want to speak to you. He just had to get back,” said Wilson as he tried to calm the upset truckers.

On the spot, Wilson told SEARCHLIGHT that the company had experienced a delay in payments coming from overseas and the government had helped the company by sorting things out. He said things had returned to normal, the truckers had been paid for three months, and hopefully from now on everything should be alright barring unforeseen circumstances.

“Hopefully it won’t happen but you never know. Look at the current economic crisis in the world which has probably precipitated this problem, which we don’t know,” said Wilson.

He said if the truckers have any problems, C.O.Williams Construction Limited is quite prepared to sit down around a table and discuss it with them.

He, however, added: “If anybody is unhappy with the terms and conditions as they are at the moment, please feel free not to come back to work until you are happy with the situation. It is up to you,” said Wilson.

In a letter to the truckers dated November 14, and which accompanied their payments, Thompson informed the truckers that C.O. Williams will no longer be supplying diesel, tyres or any material in an advance of their monthly payments. He added: “Please note that the cost for the supply of diesel in July 08 has not been deducted from your account, but will be deducted from next month’s payment.”

The project is financed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).