Tank-Weld sees spike in cement requests
Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
Tank-Weld Metals Limited is reportedly being bombarded with calls from hardware merchants in Trinidad and Tobago, who are faced with a cement shortage as a result of strike action at the Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL).
"We are being flooded with requests from hardware companies in Trinidad and Tobago for our cement, and are putting things in place to, if allowed, assist in this crisis," said Tank-Weld's boss Chris Bicknell in an interview with The Gleaner yesterday.
However, there is uncertainty over whether Tank-Weld will be able to answer the call of the merchants as TLC, the parent company of its rival Carib Cement Company Limited (CCCL), is the monopoly producer in Trinidad and Tobago.
Efforts to get a Jamaica government perspective on the situation proved futile as as neither Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton nor Permanent Secretary Reginald Budhan could be reached for comment.
Tank-Weld does not enjoy the best of relationships with CCCL, the local monopoly producer of cement, especially after the Government facilitated a 15 per cent Common External Tariff (CET) to Tank-Weld and other local exporters of cement.
While refusing to comment on the possibility of Tank-Weld answering the call of the Trinidad and Tobago merchants, Lystra Sharpe, CCCL's public relations manager, told The Gleaner yesterday that CCCL has been supplying cement to the parent company markets.
"We have sent three shipments of bulk and bag cement amounting to 14,000 tonnes to Trinidad and Tobago," Sharpe said. "As we speak, we have a shipment of 4,000 tonnes being loaded for the Eastern Caribbean and we will continue to do this until the crisis is over."
In the meantime, the impasse in Trinidad and Tobago, which is between TCL and the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) over a 16 per cent wage increase demand, has entered a fourth week.
"WTU is unwilling to settle for anything below double-digit figures and are also seeking improved packages for casual workers.
"I want the minister (Anthony Hylton) to take note of these happenings (in Trinidad and Tobago)," Bicknell said. "This is why competition is important in any market; we cannot afford for such a crisis to reoccur in Jamaica."