Minister of Finance Colm Imbert says the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) President General Ancel Roget is mistaken that State oil company, Petrotrin, was mandated by him to offer the union a zero percent wage increase for the 2014 to 2017 period.
Could this mean that the Board of Petrotrin would be fired?
In a statement issued on Friday, Imbert said Petrotrin did not inform the Government, that it had commenced negotiations for the collective bargaining period 2014 to 2017. Imbert stated, “Petrotrin acted unilaterally without informing the Government or seeking a remit from the Public Sector Negotiating Committee (PSNC).” He said it is well known by all concerned that State Enterprises must seek and obtain guidelines from the PSNC, which is a committee of Cabinet ministers, which is chaired by the Finance Minister.
“This procedure has been in place for over 20 years,” Imbert added.
Imbert said Petrotrin received no authorisation from the Chief Personnel Officer on this matter.
He said only when media reports appeared indicating there was disagreement between the OWTU and Petrotrin over the collective agreement for the 2014 to 2017 period, did the Government become aware that these negotiations had, “commenced without authorisation.” Imbert said the matter is now being addressed by Government and will be considered by the PSNC at its next meeting.
Imbert also said he has sought an explanation from Petrotrin and it was only on Wednesday that the company first sought guidance from him on this matter.
He said in Petrotrin’s letter to him, the company advised him that any increase in manpower costs at this time will result in increased losses and further exacerbate its cash flow, thus exposing Petrotrin to the risk of funds not being available to meet its operational expenses.
Referring to statements made by Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Stuart Young at the post-Cabinet news conference at the OPM on Thursday, Imbert said, “The Government has not authorised Petrotrin to make any offer of any kind for the 2014-2017 period simply because the collective agreement for the previous period 2011 to 2014 is currently before the Industrial Court and has not been settled or determined.”
Imbert further stated that as a result, “it is impossible to quantify the cost of an agreement for the subsequent 2014- 2017 period.