“Jeering, protesting or shouting was not tolerated, a leaked memo said. Staying away was allowed, but then the overtime allowance would be reduced.”
Printed below is an English translation of an article published today by the Dutch FT, Financieele Dagblad.
With the call, the contractors wanted to improve the fragile relationship between the unions and President Donald Trump. Photo: Justin Merriman / Bloomberg
Construction workers at Shell factory were asked to treat Trump kindly
Van onze redacteur: 19 August 2019
To the great satisfaction of the contractors, the thousands of construction workers from a Shell plant under construction northwest of Pittsburgh received President Donald Trump on Tuesday with loud applause.
The construction companies had asked their employees to treat the president in a friendly manner in an attempt to improve the fragile relationship between the White House and the trade unions. Jeering, protesting or shouting was not tolerated, a leaked memo said. Staying away was allowed, but then the overtime allowance would be reduced.
The memo of the contractors stated, in addition to the comment about protesting, that “an underlying theme of the meeting is to promote goodwill of the trade unions. Your union leaders and personnel workers agree with this. ” Some trade union leaders said afterwards to the local media that they did not know anything about the memo.
“Shell not responsible”
To CNN, Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith stated that the oil and gas company is not responsible for the text about the behavior of construction workers. Nor would the multinational have asked contractors to transfer such texts. Workers who wanted to attend the meeting had to report to the hall in question at seven in the morning, while the president did not speak until the afternoon.
Shell’s plastics plant worth $ 6 billion is due to open early next year. Six hundred Shell employees will then be employed. At least five thousand construction workers now work and more than twelve unions are represented.
Trump came as a current president to promote his energy policy, but his visit was more like an election meeting. For example, Democrats got it and he challenged union leaders to call their members to vote for him in next year’s presidential election. In 2016, Trump won in Pennsylvania, which usually votes Democratically.
56-hour working week
The construction workers involved have a 56-hour working week, of which sixteen hours counts as overtime. Here they earn one and a half times the normal wage. Shell had informed the contractors in advance that people were free to come or not to come to the meeting with Trump, but those who did not come would have no or less right to overtime payment. In the US it is common for employees to take around ten ‘personal’ days per year.
For some contractors, anonymous trade union sources say that nothing would be paid if the employees did not show up. For people coming from outside the region, that could include up to $ 700 in lost income – including travel and overtime allowance.
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