Angostura workers to protest as board meets over sexual harassment allegations

The National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) says it and the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU) will be protesting on Thursday, when the board of Angostura meets to address sexual harassment charges against chairman Rolph Balgobin.

In a statement released Wednesday, the union said it will be again staging a protest demonstration for Balgobin’s removal outside of the company’s head offices at 11:30 am on Thursday, the same day the board will meet to discuss the complaint. 

The union says the allegations of sexual misconduct laid against Balgobin are particularly disturbing and the matter should be dealt with swiftly.

“The NATUC supports the view of the SWWTU that the nature of these allegations are particularly disturbing and the matter should be dealt with swiftly.”

“In so doing, care should be taken to secure and maintain both the public and employees confidence in the Board and the company.”

“Since these allegations speak to personal behavior and unbecoming conduct, we are of the view that it should not be allowed by extension/ association to tarnish the image and brand of the company which is a public listed company that operates in the domestic, regional and international arena.”

“These allegations can detract from the company and have already begun to do so since the position of Chairman is the highest position in the company.” 

“In light of the foregoing, we support the SWWTU in its call for the resignation of Mr. Balgobin, or at the very least, that he demits his position and refrain from attending all meetings of the Board of Angostura until there is an independent and transparent investigation into these allegations.”

The union reminds citizens that “it is a fundamental human right for workers to engage in peaceful protest action over any situation which makes them feel uncomfortable, threatened or which may offend them”.

“It is a right which we in the NATUC take very seriously and any intimidatory tactics or threats to the workers is wrong in the eyes of the law and can expose the company to litigation,” it said.

The union adds it is calling on board members or anyone else who feels inclined to intimidate workers to stop this “backward, illegal and misdirected behaviour”.

“It matters not whether the workers are professional or nonprofessional, unionised or non-unionised, listed for a promotion or not, these workers have a right to exercise their fundamental rights to protest as enshrined in the international best labour laws and practices," they said.

Angostura workers protested on Tuesday, calling for Balgobin to step down after allegations of sexual harassment were brought against him by a senior female executive staff member last year. 

The company said it is meeting this week to address the issue.

Media reports revealed that the board of Angostura had not reviewed complaints against the chairman after a police report of sexual harassment was filed in November 2016.

The complaint included a polygraph to substantiate the report and was submitted to the Audit Committee of Angostura for investigation in November 2016.

Balgobin, who is also President of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturer's Association (TTMA), said the allegations are false. 

Angostura was also recently the subject of controversy after a report revealed that the company's exported products may have breached international quality standards by using imported rum. 


See also: 

Angostura board to review sexual harassment allegations after protest

Angostura refutes rum allegations