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OWTU meets Energy Minister on Petrotrin’s future

Don’t touch refinery workers
Published: 
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
President General of the OWTU Ancel Roget,centre, arrive with members for meeting with Energy Minister Franklyn Khan at Tower C, International Waterfront Centre,Port of Spain, yesterday

President General of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union Ancel Roget says if Petrotrin has to cut jobs in a proposed restructuring exercise the first to go should be from the human resource and corporate communications departments. He insisted no job losses should come from oil producing areas.

Roget said he told that to Energy Minister Franklin during yesterday’s two-hour meeting at Tower C , International Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain.

He told reporters yesterday’s meeting was cordial but the minister “did not tell us anything that we did not know.”

Roget said the union told Khan that the workers were not to be blamed for the financial problems affecting the company and any restructuring should ensure those who work in the core area of oil production and refining be retained.

Roget said that there were many workers in the human resources and corporate communications departments who could be offered alternative jobs in the areas of production and refining.

“Those (workers) do not produce oil and they do not refine oil to make products,” Roget said.

He also said there was no need for certain executive positions in the company.

Roget said there are some 2,000 vacancies that needed to be filled in the areas of oil production and refining. He insisted the human resources and communications departments are “highly overstaffed.”

He said the OWTU would like to see an immediate restructuring of the company “putting the focus and emphasis where it matters — where real people who do real work ,those vacancies ought to be filled.”

Roget said the company has put a hold on the filling of those vacancies.

He said he told the minister that the OWTU “was fully committed to restructuring the company and “we believe that it should involve the union.”

He said the issue of the $850 million bullet payment from the recent negotiations for a new collective agreement was also discussed yesterday. According to Roget the union was told that that issue had to be renegotiated. He said while the union supports that for the company to ease its debt burden it must also have the right management to achieve that objective.

Roget said Petrotrin must to be insulated from political interference in order to be a successful business.

Asked to comment on Tuesday’s meeting between Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the OWTU leader said under former prime ministers Basdeo Panday and Patrick Manning “you would never have seen such an approach.”

He said Rowley has effectively turned to the woman whom he said cannot run to country in 2015 and asked her to help manage it in 2017.

“Something has to be wrong with that. Something has to be ludicrous about that whole arrangement,” Roget said.

He said if the Prime Minister and his Government “feel that is good political stroke, it is not, wait until the backlash comes and we are sure it will come. It is an admission of failure.”

Rowley met with Persad-Bissessar on Tuesday but there was no agreement on one of the major issues discussed, a legislative intervention to resolve the issue of the 53 part-heard cases left by former Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar when she became a judge last April.

She has since resigned the new appointment.

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