In a press release issued late yesterday evening, the Ministry noted that Minister of Labour Rennie Dumas had intervened in the current impasse between the company and dozens of Chinese workers who have said they have not been paid at least two months salaries by the company. The release noted that officials from the OSH Agency have visited the Aranjuez Junior Secondary and Fiver Rivers Junior Secondary schools construction sites where the workers are working.
In relation to Aranjuez, OSHA determined that “the workplace safety and health conditions...were found to be satisfactory.”
“The Five Rivers Junior Secondary School project site was also inspected, the safety and health conditions were found to be also satisfactory with minor irregularities.”
However, “it is noted that Section 5(1) of the OSH Act excludes premises occupied for residential purposes only for the definition of ‘industrial establishment’. Accordingly, since these quarters are removed from the worksite, they do not fall within the OSH Act.”
Nonetheless, according to the ministry, “inspectors of the OSH Agency inspected the residence of the employees...In discussions with a company representative, moral suasion was used to have remidial measures taken with regard to the general hygiene at this domestic facility.” At a meeting between Dumas and unnamed representatives of the company as well as officials of the Chinese Embassy at Riverside Plaza, Dumas assigned “the Chief Labour Relations Officer and the Chief Labour Inspector to work with the affected parties” to resolve the impasse.
“In the discussions, the Beijing Corporation agreed to continue to provide meals to workers who are waiting to return home,” the ministry said in its release. “The company also agreed to meet with an official from the Ministry of Health who would provide guidance in relation to the living conditions of the workers in order to maintain a healthy environment.”
Early this week, about 70 Chinese labourers protested along the Uriah Butler Highway and then outside the Chinese Embassy in St Clair over unpaid salaries and inhumane living conditions at their live-in camp in Cunupia.