World Bank security staff in East Timor are on strike after their employer, Chubb Protective Company, sacked 32 workers in a dispute over a 30% wage cut.

The Confederation of East Timor Trade Unions (KSTL) said that the workers were sacked after protesting against Chubb’s decision to cut their wages from $US133 to $US94 a month.

Confederation President Jose da Costa said that the 32 workers were maintaining a picket line at the Dili offices of the World Bank, where Chubb provides security and cleaning services. Chubb sacked the workers on December 4, a day after a strike in protest against the wage cuts.

Mr da Costa said that the sackings were unconstitutional because the workers were involved in a lawful strike at the time. Chubb had also breached East Timor’s Labour Code by failing to give the required 30 days’ notice of termination.

The Confederation said that Chubb had forced the workers to sign individual contracts cutting their wages without providing the opportunity to read them in their own language. Chubb threatened workers that if they did not sign the contract, their employment would be terminated without compensation.

Chubb’s hardline workplace policies have been an ongoing source of concern for East Timor’s fledging union movement since 2000 when the company began operations in the country, where it employs about 800 people.

“There are other instances where Chubb has failed to abide by the national labour regulations over unpaid overtime, discrimination on salaries and recruitment without contract,” Mr da Costa said.

For media comment please contact:

Jose da C. da Costa, President of KSTL + 670 723 9824 (East Timor)

Peter Jennings, Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA 0409 047 353 (Australia)