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Dear Editor: Open Letter to Sean Hadeed; NWU accuses Francis Fashions of violating international labour laws

“Article 3.1 [of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention]: ‘For the purposes of this Convention the term forced or compulsory labour shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily’.

“You can’t force people to work overtime… You don’t dismiss workers because they were boldfaced enough to exercise their constitutional right to seek assistance from the National Workers Union in the face of your oppressive and illegal actions.”

The following Letter to the Editor on the axing of 25 workers at Cadel Trading—the warehouse affiliated to Francis Fashions/Shoe Locker—was submitted to Wired868 by Kathleen Davis and Gerry Kangalee of the National Workers Union (NWU):

Photo: The Francis Fashions Shoe Locker logos.

“In a million different ways they violate the law;

It’s the same good, no-good bastards who oppress the poor;

They selling black market, making excess profit,

Paying starvation salary;

These good citizens are the architects of economic slavery.”

(Good Citizens by Slinger “The Mighty Sparrow” Francisco)

Mr Sean Hadeed, big sawatee of Gulf City and Francis Fashions/ Shoe Locker, you think that because you are the employer and belong to a prominent 1% family, workers’ terms and conditions of employment at your Cadel warehouse in Trincity can be unilaterally changed by you without consultation and/or agreement from them?

You believe that working-class people are so hungry that they would put up with exploitation forever and accept that they have no say in the matter? If that is the case, then it is slavery again…

Mr Sean Hadeed, a word of advice for you: not because you have set the original terms and conditions means you have the right to change these by yourself.

Cadel Trading, Francis Fashions and Shoe Locker may be yours but this is not the 19th Century. The workers are no longer slaves; they are free men and women. This, Mr Gulf City, is the 21st Century. Maybe you didn’t get the memo.

Photo: Francis Fashions Shoe Locker operations manager Arund Ramlal (left) shows Jericho Project director Roger Varley one of the tops that the company will donate to the Brands of Hope initiative.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

You need to understand that workers are people and not chattel. The tone of your letter of dismissal to the workers makes it clear that Cadel knows nothing about good housekeeping.

You think you are the descendant of Massa? Listen to yourself: “… you refused to recognise and submit to the authority of the employer.” Wow!

Contrary to your belief, this twin-island state has enacted laws for the protection of its citizens, who are not just party financiers and foreign exchange-hungry merchants but who are workers and poor people as well.

The number of work-hours per week has been well established in law and you by yourself cannot change that; you must have the concurrence of the workers so to do. Further to this, why would you want to work people for chicken and chips?

Because people did not work overtime, you first lock them out and then dismiss them? Who do you think you are? This is forced labour or what is commonly called slavery.

Photo: Francis Fashions announces job vacancies on the same day that 25 workers are axed from its warehouse.

Mr Sean Hadeed, do you realise that Trinidad and Tobago is a signatory of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention no. 29, which came into force as far back as 1930 and which states in article 1.1:

“Each Member of the International Labour Organisation which ratifies this Convention undertakes to suppress the use of forced or compulsory labour in all its forms within the shortest possible period”?

Further in Article 3.1, it goes on to state:

“For the purposes of this Convention, the term forced or compulsory labour shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.”

You can’t force people to work overtime. You cannot lock out workers because you vex they don’t bow and scrape and kiss your boots and treat you like a God. You don’t dismiss workers because they were boldfaced enough to exercise their constitutional right to seek assistance from the National Workers Union in the face of your oppressive and illegal actions. Because you buy their labour power and pay them meagre wages, it doesn’t mean that you could do them what you want.

How in good conscience can you have your employees working in an environment reeking of poor housekeeping practices? In other words, the Cadel warehouse is like a pig sty. (See pictures below).

Photo: A photograph alleged to be of the Cadel Trading warehouse.
(Courtesy NWU)

But then you obviously do not care about the health and safety of your workers. We know, we know… Profits before people! But you pay these workers next to nothing and then you make them pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) and you ignore all reports and complaints about health and safety hazards on the workplace.

Again, it seems you’re telling yourself you’re big in the dance because you violate the Occupational Safety and Health Act (2004) by refusing to set up a safety committee,although the Act clearly states: “25E. Every employer in consultation with the representatives of his employees shall establish a safety and health committee at an industrial establishment in accordance with this section where— (a) there are twenty-five or more persons employed at that establishment;”

I suppose the thinking is that, like the Mighty Sparrow said in his masterpiece “Good Citizens,” in referring to the one percenters, “…they make a mockery of the law and have the law protect them same time.” And we all know if Sparrow say so, is so!

Mr Hadeed, your fellow Good Citizens, according to Sparrow, “controlling bootlegging, dope peddling, prostitution and piracy” and they engage in: “false declaration, tax evasion, defrauding customs duty…”

So what is a little lawlessness when it comes to dealing with workers’ entitlements and practising atrocious industrial relations, especially when it boosts the bottom line.

A word to the wise! Pressure does buss pipe! You and your one percent class allies are pushing the envelope and forgetting the lessons of history. Keep up with this rank exploitation and the backlash will inevitably come.

All skin teeth is not laugh and the masses are growing restless. Right now everybody galaying but sooner than later somebody is going to sing and when that happens taka kyah save all yuh!

Editor’s Note: The photographs below are allegedly photos of the warehouse at Cadel Trading, which is an affiliate of Francis Fashions/Shoe Locker. 

Click HERE to read an official response from Francis Fashions on the termination of approximately two dozen employees. The company did not respond specifically to a request for comment on the photos and the allegations regarding work conditions at its company.

Photo: A cover-less electrical panel allegedly photographed in the Cadel Trading warehouse.
(Courtesy NWU)
Photo: A right royal mess allegedly photographed in the Cadel Trading warehouse.
(Courtesy NWU)
Photo: Electrical wires that are clearly exposed allegedly photographed in the Cadel Trading warehouse.
(Courtesy NWU)

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32 comments

  1. Sigh. Please keep emotions in check people. Racist, abusive or libelous comments will be deleted once brought to our attention. Anyone who persists in that sort of thing will be banned.
    This isn’t that kind of place.

  2. Coldworld Frost Jemimah boy go an suck a dinnermint an hush

  3. Coldworld Frost Jemimah will do

  4. Go an find yah sister so yall could keep dat 1% in d family

  5. Im not vex wit nun its just stupid ppl like u dont know wat ppl dose go tru on a daily basis to live an wana talk shit out yall stupid assholes

  6. U vex with 1% why ??? You need Jesus

  7. Coldworld Frost Jemimah you realize that ur an ass right ????

  8. Lol . Michael Aboud your worship

  9. Michael Aboud i find u should go an work the hours those me were working before you open yah mouth with that talk about extra mile i sure u aint work a day in your life money was put in your bank account as a baby hmmmm

  10. Is the union suggesting that the workers would have been satisfied if Cadel brought an entirely different crew to work that extra hour?

  11. Mr Michael Aboud with no disrespect so u telling me that It is right to treat workers like slaves and have no life outside of Cadel Trading Limited

  12. I don’t blame Sean at all…. we need ppl in this country willing to work and go the extra mile . That’s how things get done

  13. is this an OSHA violation story or an industrial court matter story or a disgruntled worker story?
    I’m confused.
    #CourtClothes

  14. Sean remember God don’t sleep eh. Just keep that in mind

  15. Ok. Workers allegedly signed agreeing to work one hour overtime. Already working 8 to 5, not sure if they are being paid for their lunch hour. What was the period of the overtime to clear containers…unlimited? March 5 was over two months of allegedly signing to work one hour overtime.

  16. Judgements made by the industrial court are piling up unpaid these days. Sad but true.

  17. This is how those who feel that they are the owners of the nation treat those who they feel do not count.I extend solidarity to the affected workers and fully support the action of the National Workers Union in bringing this action to the awareness of the national public and addressing the dispute on behalf of the workers. In the mean time I await a statement from the ECA and the Business Chambers on this matter.

  18. Sit down and spend your life talking about the 1 and see how far you get.

  19. ent de 1% run tings? labour laws? what labour laws?

  20. How I would love to be a lawyer practicing in Trinidad right now… 😀