‘The Government has abandoned us’ - Former CHEC employees fighting for compensation after job related injuries
Several former employees of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) are alleging they were injured while on the job and have not been compensated, despite several attempts to settle the matter.
The men worked on sections of the North South Highway that runs from Mammee Bay, St Ann, to Ferry, St Catherine,
They are now unable to work and are blasting the company and the Government for continuously ignoring their plight.
A motorist, who was involved in an accident involving one of the company's vehicles and who lost an arm as a result, is also crying foul as he is yet to be compensated for his injuries and loss of earnings.
Two of the former CHEC employees, Barrington Wollaston and Tomoy Williams, told The Sunday Gleaner that when they last went to court in April 2015, the judge told them to return to court in 2019 for the next hearing.
PAIN AND ITCHING
Wollaston, who suffered severe electrical burns after a company truck he was working at Phoenix Park, St Ann, in April 2015, came in contact with a 12KV high-tension wire, says he is still feeling pain and itches from the burns.
"It's 23 months and I'm still having all of those problems same way. The pain comes and maybe five days later it's gone, then come again," said Wollaston.
He said medical officials have told him that the pain will be there for a while, with no specific time period before it goes away.
According to Wollaston, the company offered him a paltry sum which he declined, as he is prepared to continue to pursue the matter.
"The last time we went to court in April 2015, I heard we have to wait until 2019 again fi hear what's going on. We not sure if we going to live till that time. We want to call on the labour minister (Shahine Robinson) to step in and see what she can do fi we.
"Shahine Robinson a we neighbour and she naw do nutten at all fi wi. So we waa know what's going on."
Williams and another former employee, Neil St Patrick Lowe, were both hired as drivers in 2014.
According to Williams, the truck he was driving overturned in Steer Town on October 18, 2015, leaving him severely injured.
"A lot of people did say mi dead but by the grace of God I'm still here. But from that time until now, nothing, not even mi two weeks pay wha mi suppose fi get," said Williams.
Williams' spouse, Anna Kay Berbick, added her voice to those seeking compensation.
"It's only me alone and my job (alone) cannot supply all our needs; the bills are piling up and we cannot manage so we calling on the authorities to come in and take a stand," Berbick pleaded.
"We're young people and this is a stumbling block in our way. We need to move forward," added Berbick.
Lowe's accident was in October 2014, also in Steer Town.
"The supervisor sent me up on a slope and the slope wasn't compressed by the roller," charged Lowe.
"Because of the weight of the truck, the truck overturned, spin over five times. Broken hand, cracked ribs, whiplash, back injury and all those things. I went to mediation; they (CHEC) didn't turn up.
"Right now me waiting on a court date, me no go court from 2015 so it's like waste of time with them, so we need action. Not even my medical bill they haven't paid. I have half a million (dollars) worth of bills and nobody compensate me," added Lowe.
In the meantime, Anthony Gordon, a decorative block maker from Moneague, St Ann, says he was returning home from Kingston with his wife in July 2015 when a truck belonging to CHEC slammed into his bus, chopping off one of his arms.
"We on we way from town, the truck driver just bad drive mi, shut we in, both me and mi wife, tear off di side a mi bus, chop off my hand, and up until now I don't get anyone from the company," charged Gordon.
"We have gone to court more than one time. Supreme Court, up until now we don't get no result from these guys, we only getting promises. We are suffering. My right hand gone, my bus mash up, my business down, nothing to live off, so we need help," added Gordon.
Efforts to get a comment from CHEC have so far been unsuccessful.