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OWTU: Villagers to help in fight against privatisation
The OWTU intends to enlist village “soldiers in its war against the Government,” president general of the union Ancel Roget said yesterday to stop the possible privatisation of State companies and job cuts at cash-strapped Petrotrin.
He urged workers to be on standby as he rallied their support outside the gates of the Petrotrin Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.
Roget said his fight will include people from rural communities rather than just oil workers and their families.
The union leader said in jest that he intended to write the final chapter of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s book, renaming it “From Whitehall back to Mason Hall.”
Unlike last year when mass mobilisation was done in the urban areas, Roget and his comrades have started going into rural communities to get support from the working class. On Thursday, they visited Indian Walk in Moruga during a protest over bad road conditions.
Even though the OWTU had signed an alliance with the People’s Partnership back in 2010, Roget said it was OWTU which was responsible for Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s political crash, and warned that Rowley could suffer the same fate. A month before the 2015 general election, Roget and other union leaders signed a MOU with the PNM.
“This year 2018 will have one month in this year and it will be March because we will have march after march this whole year,” Roget shouted as the crowds applauded. He said wherever there is a struggle, the OWTU will join hands with those depressed communities.
He said the OWTU was not against the restructuring of State-companies and referred to the union’s own restructuring plan submitted to the government since 2016 calling for the autonomy of Petrotrin’s divisions including Refinery and Marketing, Exploration and Production and Trinmar Marine.
Petrotrin’s dire financial state
Last month, Petrotrin Chairman Wilfred Espinet said the cash-strapped oil company was in dire need of better management and organisation. Espinet said then the South West Soldado field project—which started of at a cost of $400 million was currently at $1.2 billion—was only 65 per cent complete. Rowley in his address to the nation on Sunday said Petrotrin will be restructured this year and noted that the company was owing the Government $2.75 billion in taxes.
Energy Minister Franklin Khan said previously that Petrotrin’s debts was over $13 billion, adding that payments of US$850 million and US$750 million were due in August next year and in 2022.
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