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SSL employees give mixed reports on work conditions

SSL employees give mixed reports on work conditions


Workers at St Vincent Shipyard Limited (SSL) paint a mixed picture about conditions there, with some saying things are fine, while others are disgruntled.

Searchlight visited the shipyard and marina last week Wednes-day, after president of the National Workers Movement (NWM) Noel Jackson issued a release saying he was concerned about developments at the Ottley Hall shipyard.{{more}}

Machine shop worker Renaldo Charles said that he has been doing manufacturing engineering at the shipyard for about a year, servicing and making boat parts. He said that he has no problems on his job, except that at times, communication is a problem.

“The only problem is information output, for example, telling you what is happening next after one job is finished. Otherwise than that, nobody treats me bad or talks to me badly. We have a good relationship and they have helped me up myself,” said Charles.

Senior electrician Oswald Glasgow, who has been with the shipyard for three years, also said that he has no problems on the job.

But one worker, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that he has a number of issues with the way things are being done. He said that in his opinion, it is not that things are slow, but the work is being held up because of the unavailability of material in some instances.

“There is sometimes no oxygen or propane, so we can’t use the welding equipment…no material to get the work done, so we can’t do much work or get anything finished.

“Certain repairs were started, now stopped and certain areas have material and certain don’t. Sometimes we ask for material and they send us to use scrap material. They sending us to reuse things like wires,” said the disgruntled employee.

The upset man also claimed that they do not have the proper hand washing products and toilet paper, among other things, “and when you speak, like they upset.”

He added that when it was mentioned that some employees would be put on a shift system, they were annoyed and asked why weren’t the Venezuelans who were brought in placed on a shift system, while the permanent Vincentians employees were.

“We are capable of doing the work, so why bring them here? Some of them talk to us, messed us and we just have to buckle sometimes; it is as if foreigners taking the jobs.”

He noted also that initially, they were told that the Venezuelans would only be there to tutor them on certain things and a number of workers wanted to take their severance payments and leave, but SSL asked them to stay.

“Some of us were asking for severance and the boss said we should not ask to go home, but we should stick with them; but now they know the work and know what going on, like they don’t want us. Now they know what we know, they want to pressure us; they not the best of people to work with and the Government should step in,” said the skilled labourer.

He also spoke about searches conducted on employees when they leave the compound, as in his opinion, “they don’t trust nobody and they think when the materials finish we steal them.”

The outspoken worker, however, added that there would be a boat arriving at the shipyard this week, so they were looking forward to steady work then.