Construction Workers Protest Job-Site Conditions

New Eden News | YC110-04-03

Yoma, Lonetrek - All construction activity ceased at the Zumol Chemical job site on the third planet of the Yoma system as workers clashed with security forces. Though no one was seriously injured, the situation has settled into an uneasy stalemate, with workers refusing to resume construction until their demands are met by Zumol's management.

At issue was the safety environment at the job-site, which workers say is deplorable. A barren rock with a thin, toxic atmosphere, Yoma III none the less holds high concentrations of valuable elements used by Zumol in its manufacturing operations. Worse still, the planet's close proximity to the star also results in high levels of radiation and frequent tremors induced by solar tidal forces. In this difficult environment, Zumol is attempting to build a large refinery for the mining and processing of heavy metals such as Cadmium and Caesium.

In order to complete the construction project within the allotted time and budget constraints, Zumol has hired a veritable army of construction workers from throughout the Asalola constellation. These workers have been housed in hastily-erected shelters at the work-site, and maintain that the conditions there have deteriorated rapidly since work began almost eight months ago.

"The atmospheric scrubbers don't work to capacity, so at any given time almost a quarter of my workforce is too sick to work," stated Kizen Ohtainnen, a foreman on the site. He continued with a litany of complaints, saying "Most of the hab-shelters are leaking oxygen, and the structures are poorly maintained. The elements are hard on the equipment, and the company doesn't service it regularly. We lost three workers last week in a crane accident that could have been prevented. And to top it all off, the hours are long, the food is lousy, and the pay is horrible."

For its part, the company is quick to dismiss these complaints. Uria Nakazen, a spokeswoman for Zumol laid out the company's position: "Zumol Chemical has offered its workers a contract at an attractive wage quite in keeping with today's compensation environment. Though we acknowledge that the site's location does pose certain difficulties, we feel that the hazard pay offered in the contract more than compensates for any discomfort incurred by the workers." But she pulled no punches, adding, "Quite frankly in today's employment climate, if they are unhappy with their situation there are plenty of other skilled workers out there willing to take their place."

Contractors at the Yoma site dispute that claim, however. Reizo Komakura, a licensed welder said, "After a gantry collapse during a quake killed a co-worker, I decided I'd had enough. But the site manager informed me bluntly that I had signed a contract, and until the terms of my contract were complete I was staying put. And what alternative do I have? It's not like we're in paradise here. This place is a gods-forsaken hell-hole, so where am I gonna go?"

Foreman Ohtainnen echoes this sentiment. "Keeping people on this rock after they've decided they've had enough is tantamount to indentured servitude. What's next, debtor's prison? Slavery? While those Zumol execs are sipping Quafe in their cushy offices on some station, we're down here dying of preventable accidents, bad atmo, and heavy-metal poisoning. Something needs to be done, and soon."

The current work-stoppage is aimed at achieving exactly that result. Financial analysts estimate that for every day that work ceases on the project, Zumol is losing nearly five million ISK. At present Zumol has taken a hard line, with workers confined to quarters by site security forces and management showing no signs of being willing to sit down at the bargaining table. It is clear from all appearances that both sides are settling in for a protracted battle of wills.