‘Chinese work like slaves’

By Richardson Dhalai
October 14, 2009 – newsday.co.tt

Chinese labourersThe camp at Chatee Trace, Cunupia where Chinese labourers of Beijing Liujian Construction Corporation is tucked away on a lonely stretch of road.

The living quarters are shielded by sheets of galvanise which line the length of the compound.

While, more than 70 of them were detained in Port-of-Spain for protesting for their pay, about 100 stayed behind the camp which stank of stale urine.

They kept themselves hidden away and the few who crawled out of the unplastered concrete structures waved their hands to sign they did not speak English. The compound is divided into two with one section used as a materials stockpile.

In the other area, small brick housing units are lined in the shape of an open ended rectangle. Laundry hung limply from lines stretching along the length of the barrack-type compound.

One worker who spoke in broken English and seemed afraid kept denying they were being mistreated or underpaid by the company.

A green vehicle drove into the camp then abruptly spun around and exited the compound.

The gate was soon closed after the Newsday news team left the camp. Residents who live near the camp estimate 300 Chinese labourers stay there. The labourers are mostly peaceful and keep to themselves, they said.

One resident said the labourers work hard “like slaves”, leaving the camp very early on mornings and returning late on evenings.

At times, he sees them fishing in drains which line nearby ochro and dasheen bush fields.

Sometimes they walk to the small parlours which dot the main road.

The labourers, the resident said, have been seen defecating in the fields and at times the yelps of dogs are heard coming from the camp.


Related News:

Chinese workers in highway protest

…Protest leads to rush-hour gridlock

Chinese construction workers want out
They haven’t been paid in months, they were seen eating “dry bread”, cannot speak a word of English and would rather return to the crowded streets of Fujian Province than stay to work as labourers in Trinidad.

…Construction company denies owing money

‘Return Blood Money’
Police arrested more than 70 Chinese labourers outside the Chinese Embassy in Port-of-Spain last night, only to return them to their squalid camp at Chatee Trace, Cunupia where they began their harrowing day in an uprising over wages owed to them by their employers Beijing Liujian Construction Corporation Ltd.

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6 thoughts on “‘Chinese work like slaves’”

  1. Unions blame Govt for plight of Chinese workers
    FEDERATION of Independent Trade Unions and Non-Governmental Organisations (FITUN) president, David Abdulah, has described the alleged mistreatment of Chinese immigrant workers as “modern day slavery” and says Government must take full responsibility.

    32 Chinese heading home
    THIRTY-TWO Chinese nationals working as labourers with Beijing Liujian Construction Corporation TT Ltd (BLCC) are to be flown back home to China sometime next week sources at the National Security Ministry revealed yesterday.

    …Labour Minister to get report today
    Labour Minister Rennie Dumas is today scheduled to make a decision on the allegations of some 85 Chinese workers that their employer, the Beijing Liujian Construction Corporation, has not been honouring its contract with them.

    Government probes Tuesday’s protest

    OWTU: Workers’ plight ‘modern day slavery’
    Describing the plight of the Chinese workers as “modern day slavery”, Oilfields Workers Trade Union president general, Ancil Roget, has called on both the Occupational Safety and Health Authority, (OSHA), and the Minister of Labour to intervene on behalf of the workers.

    A test for the Government
    The spectacle of over 80 Chinese workers protesting at the side of the Uriah Butler Highway on Tuesday has once again raised concerns about the conditions these men live under.

    The Chinese disconnection
    It is somewhat ironic that, as we are celebrating another anniversary of the arrival of our Chinese Heritage the recently arrived Chinese workers are mounting protests about the conditions they are enduring here.

  2. This situation is an obscenity, a carbuncle on the face of our beautiful country. I am reminded of the time around 1984 when the police arrested a number of anti-apartied protesters at the Oval who were objecting to a South African player trying to evade the ban on his country’s sportsmen by playing cricket for England. We looked like fools, like Botha’s minions, and I was so ashamed.
    Today, I am even more ashamed. The government of my proud country has played right into the hands of the exploiter by arresting and revoking the workpermits of those who protested. What message does that send to the other allegedly unpaid workers? Shut up and work, or else you will be deported penniless also.
    We have lost our seat at the table of civilized nations in this mess. We ought to hold all payments to the contractor until he can show documments that reveal he has paid his workers.
    The state needs to appoint a conservator of affairs for these poor Chinese workers, hampered by a lack of ENGLISH.iS THIS WHY THEY ARE PREFERABLE TO TRINI WORKERS, BECAUSE THEY DARE NOT PROTEST?
    Is my country now in the business of condoning slavery? If you profit from slavery, you are guilty of slavery.

    Halfway around the world is a long way to go to find that you have no rights. The International Anti-slavery Society shoud take an interest in the plight of these Chinese workers, so far from home, and about to be deported without their legitimate wages.

    The action of the government of Trinidad and tobago is WRONG! There should have been translators there ,and the ministry of Labour sghould have appointed a Labour Officer to work with thise people. We are a democracy, not a Middle Eash Sheikdom like Dubai where this type of treatment is daily metd out tio Indian, Pakistaniand Filipino builders of skyscrapers. Slavery is thecheapest form of labour, so former slaves and indentures, could turn a blind eye to this?
    WE need to rescind the deportation order and seek justice in the courts for these poor people. Concerned Trinis should boycott all Chinese products to support these exploited people. We rae building in our city and schools, monuments to hell. What will we teach children in those schools about justice? God I’m pissed off.

  3. Sorry about the uncorrected typos in the second half of my previous comment. The phone rang and I had to go answer it, and would have lost the entire thing if I had not submitted it then. Thank you readers.

  4. We’re not leaving without our money
    CHINESE nationals employed with Beijing Liujian Construction Corporation TT Ltd (BLCC) have refused to return to China unless outstanding wages are paid to them by the contractor.

    Shut down Chinese camp
    Land on which a camp housing more than 100 Chinese labourers in Central Trinidad was registered with the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation by a local company as a site for a “warehouse/office” and not for accommodation, councillor for St Helena/Warrenville Shama Deonarine disclosed yesterday.

    Chamber calls for foreign labour probe
    The Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce is calling for an investigation into all projects using foreign labour.

    …’Resolve Chinese issue’
    Local manufacturers are worried about alleged mistreatment of Chinese labourers working in Trinidad and Tobago.

  5. No Osha violations
    Labour Minister Rennie Dumas says the Chinese firm Beijing Liujing Construction Company has committed no breach of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Osha).

    Living condition outside OSH Act

    Chinese kitchen closed
    Public Health Officers have asked officials from Beijing Liujian Construction Corporation TT Limited (BLCC) to close the kitchen at the Chinese living quarters in Central.

    Living conditions shock Minister
    Paula Gopee-Scoon, Foreign Affairs Minister, was aghast yesterday when showed a picture of the concrete latrines used by Chinese labourers at Ramsaran Trace in Cunupia and published in yesterday’s Newsday.

    Chinese workers not paid directly
    THE CHINESE company at the heart of recent claims of the human trafficking of Chinese workers to this country yesterday confirmed that it does not pay salaries directly to the immigrant Chinese workers it employs, but rather to their families in mainland China.

    Company speaks out: Chinese chose to end their contracts
    CHINA-BASED firm, Beijing Liujing Construction Company (TT) Ltd, says its disgruntled workers who staged a protest four days ago are claiming a performance deposit which they forfeited.

  6. Lord, what a lying mess! Mr. Dumas should check with Ms. Gopie Scoon,so that we would know that we know our arse from our elbow. The only just thing to do is for the government of TnT to withold part of the contract to pay the Chinese workers. I know for a fact that Chinese restaurants in TnT do not pass on the tips to their employees. Whenever I come home, and eat at such a restaurant(the one on Ariapita Ave near some other restaurants come to mind) I slip the cash for the tip directly to the employee and pay for the food by credit card.How do I know the tips are not paid? The waitresses told me. Maybe they are not Han Chinese. The majority group routinely discriminates against the minorities.(That’s why the ones freed by Pres. Obama from Guantanamo BAy do not want to go home). We cannot continue to be part of this system. Take way the contracts from the company. Tom Phillip lost his contract to build the College of Arts and Science at UWI in 1966=67 for much less than this.This calls for justice.

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