Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Union, Angostura workers send warning: Balgobin must go

POUNDING THE PAVEMENT: Angostura employees march yesterday outside the company’s Laventille headquarters, where they were demanding their chairman Dr Rolph Balgobin step down amid allegations of sexual harassment against him.

ANGOSTURA Ltd chairman Dr Rolph Balgobin should step down and allow an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made against him by a senior female executive of the company.
This was the assertion yesterday by members of the National Trade Union Centre (Natuc), du­ring a protest by wor­kers outside Angos­tura's Eastern Main Road, Laventille, compound where they chanted “Balgobin must go”.
The demonstration was led by president of Natuc's member union, the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU), Michael Annisette, who said the union had a moral obligation to the country to call on Balgobin to step down from positions he held.
call to step down:
Dr Rolph Balgobin

In November 2016, an executive of Angostura filed a police report at the Morvant Police Station, alleging sexual harassment by Balgobin.
The incidents were alleged to have taken place on August 17 and September 14, 2016, after two work-related meetings.
Also that month, the same employee filed a whistle-blower complaint to the audit committee of Angostura and the board of its parent company, CL Financial Ltd (CLF).
Balgobin, a former Independent senator and current president of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufactu­rers' Association (TTMA), took up the chairmanship of CLF in May 2016.
He also at that time assumed chairmanship of Angostura and Home Construction Ltd (HCL).
It's a concern

Annisette said yesterday while the allegations are just allegations, they must be ta­ken seriously.
“We believe that this situation constitutes a major ethical issue and should not be overlooked. It deserves international attention and will not be a one-day wonder. Once we start allowing people to believe that this alleged behaviour is tolera­ted, we will run into many problems,” Annisette said.
He said he could not condone Balgobin being allowed to hold va­rious board positions while the allegations were outstanding.
“We owe it to women to have Mr Balgobin step aside pending his investigations because these are very serious allegations that have been made,” Annisette said.
He added: “And if we don't respect and protest for the rights of our women, we are destroying the very fabric of society.”
He said yesterday's protest should be viewed by the management of Angostura and its parent company, CL Financial, as “a warning”.
Angostura responds

Angostura said yesterday the matter is expected to engage the attention of directors at a board meeting later this week.
The rum producer said it had a policy framework outlined in its employee handbook and a whistle-blower policy in place.
Under the whistle-blower process, employees may anonymously report matters, including issues of sexual harassment, without fear of retaliation, a statement from the company said.
It also guides the company to protect the confidentiality of harassment allegations as an investigation pursues, it added.
“A board of directors meeting is scheduled for later
this week and this matter is expected to engage the board's attention.”
The company said: “Angostura Holdings Ltd policy on the issue is clear. Sexual harassment is not condoned or tolerated in the workplace and employees are made aware of their rights, roles and responsibilities if they feel they have been a victim of harassment. We treat all accusations of sexual harass­ment allegations very seriously, regardless of whom they are directed towards.”
It said in keeping with its policy and “as a matter of responsible corporate behaviour, as the investigation proceeds and for the protection of the complainant, records of the complaint of harassment will not be shared in the public domain”.