800 JISCO/ Alpart workers lose jobs

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 07, 2019

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AN agreement has been reached between the trade unions representing staff at the JISCO/ Alpart plant in Nain, St Elizabeth, which will result in 800 positions being made redundant.

However, up to 300 of the workers could be recalled to carry on the modernisation of the outdated refinery, which is unable to produce competitively. The updating project is likely to take up to 24 months to be completed.

About 100 of the workers have already been retained to work on it, and their unions are hoping that the figure will climb to 300 over the period of reconstruction.

The management of the plant, which is owned by China's Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO), has also agreed on the possibility on re-engaging some of those who have lost their jobs when the updated plant resumes production.

There is some optimism that the new plant may need additional workers to keep it going when it reopens. In the meantime, the parties have agreed on improved severance payments for the 800 employees being separated from the plant.

The workers are represented by the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), the National Workers union (NWU), and the Union of Clerical, Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE).

BITU President Senator Kavan Gayle told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the unions were disappointed, however, that the management rejected their request for counselling for the separated workers.

“It seems that it might not have been the culture of the management to offer counselling for separated workers, but we felt it should be part of the approach to their separation,” Senator Gayle said.

He said that despite the dismissal of that request, the union would press on with its efforts to encourage local financial institutions to assist them with loans that can help them to get back on their feet.

Senator Gayle also said trade unions will be kept informed of details of the upgrading upwork, which the management will provide to the Ministry of Transport and Mining.


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