Letters & Opinion

Construction Workers Need Rights Too!

Why do construction companies think that they can treat their workers however they wish? The slave masters of this modern era. My husband is a construction worker. He has been all his working life. He works in an industry that is currently not booming in St Lucia so he finds work where he can. This irregularity of work apparently has given bosses the upper hand on their workers because they know if you don’t want to abide by their crazy and inhumane conditions they can fire you and there is someone already waiting to fill the position. It’s a “dog eat dog” industry. Additionally, a lack of structure and collective agreement has caused a neglect of basic labour laws. Construction companies seem to be above the laws of the land as they treat employees according to their whims and fancies.

Firstly, there is no collective wage payment among construction companies for persons doing the same skill. For example, one company will pay $50.00 for a labourer and another will pay $70.00 for the same labourer. This has been a continuous thorn in my husband’s side and I have to wonder why? Some construction companies do not pay overtime neither do they pay double time when someone works on holidays or Sundays.

Secondly, there is no job security. The boss will decide to come in today and make a demand that everyone has to work until 6:00 p.m. whether they like it or not. Whoever is not pleased can walk out. This begs the question, what are the working hours and how many working hours is an employee entitled to work per day? My husband starts work at 8:00 a.m. and he was commanded to work until 6:00 p.m. about three fortnights into the job and if he is not pleased he was told to walk out. Also, there is no overtime payment on the extra hours.

Construction workers need rights too. They are hard working men fighting to feed their families. The bosses that are given full charge over the work should answer to someone. How can you give your all in a work place when you are stressed out and unhappy over the long hours? They have children, and wives to go home to. Whichever department is responsible for wage and work conditions, has to step up and take a closer look at what goes on in these construction industries. My husband is not an animal neither is he a slave. Construction workers deserve better!

— A Concerned Wife

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