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OWTU seeks input in Petrotrin make-over

Thursday, January 11, 2018
Workers at Trinmar, Point Fortin protest outside the office in Point Fortin yesterday. Photo by:KRISTIAN DE SILVA

The battle horn has been blown and the message to the Government was clear—”Back off from Petrotrin and allow the OWTU to participate in its restructuring effort.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said 2018 was the year for Petrotrin’s restructuring and that the company could not continue to be indebted to the Government. Petrotrin currently owes the Government $2.75 b in unpaid taxes. The company production of oil has also fallen and struggles to meet it wage demands.

But in a response yesterday, OTWU president general Ancel Roget warned Rowley that if workers are sent home, they are prepared to send the Government packing.

The new threat comes on the anniversary of a shutdown of the State’s oil and gas company. In that instance, the workers were protesting over stalled wage negotiations.

The threat fizzled after a deal was brokered by the Minister of Labour and company officials.

With the threat of job cuts across the company, workers from the Trinmar Offshore Operations in Point Fortin gave a resounding “Yes” to joining the union as they plan to hit the streets in protest. Mobilising support for their “year of protest,” Roget criticised Rowley and the Petrotrin Board of Directors’ handling of the failing State enterprise.

“Any attempt to put Petrotrin in the hands of private interest is not in the country’s interest. This is the only State entity that produces the products that generate foreign exchange.”

Roget made it clear that the union was not against the restructuring, recalling that they had submitted recommendations for the restructuring back in 2017. He said the union must be part of that process, but several requests to meet with the Board of Directors were not answered.

Calls to Petrotrin’s acting corporate communications manager George Commisiong yesterday for a response went unanswered. Energy Minister Franklin Khan also did not answer calls.