(Trinidad Express) Government will suffer political death for blessing the decision by Petrotrin’s Board to close the company’s refinery operations and send home workers.
This was the warning coming from president general of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget, who met with Petrotrin board members yesterday before addressing workers distressed workers.
In a rambling hour-long address, Roget said: “I want to warn that there is a very high, incalculable political price to be paid and we will ensure that, that political death is paid when the time comes”.
Roget said it was disrespectful that on the eve of Trinidad and Tobago’s 56th independence a decision was made to shut down the oil company.
Addressing workers at Beaumont Hill, Pointe a Pierre, Roget said had disagreed with the decision.
He said the trade union was give three options during the meeting with the Board members – have the company continue operations as it is, have a scaled down version of Petrotrin or shut down the refinery.
“They propose to send everybody home, and hire back 800 persons for E&P and hire back 200 persons for the terminaling operation in pointe a Pierre. That is what (Prime Minister) Dr Rowley , (Energy Minister) Franklin Khan, the Cabinet of the PNM government those who feel that love them. They propose to send all the Petrotrin workers home and have 800 applied for E&P and 200 for some small terminaling operations in Pointe a Pierre. And that the total workforce they will end up with at the end of the day, is 1000 workers across the company,” he said.
Roget warned that any move to shut down Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and send home 2,600 permanent employees would result in the death of the People’s National Movement (PNM) and the Keith Rowley-led Government.
He said the problems at the company simply an issue of poor management. And he questioned why the board would want to shut down a refinery which was still in full operation.
“If they believe that they can attack the OWTU because that is what it seems it is, attacking the OWTU by closing down our biggest bargaining agent where we have some fixed bargaining unit and that they will get away with that, for that I want to warn that there is a very high, incalculable political price to be paid and we will ensure that, that political death is paid when the time comes. Petrotrin workers, you can’t agree that you can stand idly by and allow Dr Rowley and Espinet to take the jobs away from you but even worst with absolutely no justification,” he said.
Roget said he was informed that the wheels have already started to turn. He said the Board confirmed that plans were in place to stop ordering crude and to draw down on stock and reserve in preparation for closure of the refinery.
He warned the nation of the ripple effects, saying the closure of Petrotrin would not only affect the workers and their families.
“I also want to warn people in the fence line community. I also want to warn the suppliers who supply various items, food, all of whom depend on Petrotrin. Petrotrin is not just its workers it is its workers, fence line communities, suppliers, a multiplier effect, a significant number of people depend on this company,” he said.
But he warned, “And this will mark the end of Dr Rowley. It will mark the end of the PNM. I don’t know anybody in this job who believes after hearing this that you are supportive of that party that does this injustice when there is an option to you the workers that you will support that. When they call we must not be in any of their gatherings at all. Any worker who responds to be in the PNM is a worker who is not only against himself but against all of us.”
Roget said the closure of Petrotrin would see the country spin into chaos and mayhem.