For two years and more, the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) had been in bed with this Government. One month prior to the 2015 general elections, the OTWU signed a memorandum of understanding with the PNM.
In the first Budget presentation, Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, offered $15 million to the trade union movement, including the OWTU. Now that the Government is moving to restructure Petrotrin, including the firing of workers, the OTWU has awakened and is warning the PNM administration it could suffer the same fate as the PP Government.
Well, Ancel Roget, you need to walk up and down the streets with a mannequin of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley as you with with one of Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Here Roget, “If they come to send workers home, we are prepared to send them home,” he told Trinmar workers at Point Fortin on Wednesday morning in a mobilization campaign for planned massive protest.
Wednesday’s meeting formed part of a response to Rowley’s statement that Petrotrin is a burden on the national treasury. The union head interpreted the statement as laying groundwork for retrenchment despite some 800 existing vacancies, while placing lucrative wells in the hands of private investors.
Roget warned, “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.
“For years workers were risking their lives and limbs to provide as a breadwinner for the country and now you are preparing to send the same workers home.”
Roget said the position the company had found itself in was not the fault of workers, “but successive managements and governments who politicize the company (and who have) the company in the state that it is in now.
“Politics has destroyed Petrotrin. All the parties before and this one also.”
Roget clarified that the union is not against restructuring the oil company. Recalling it was the OWTU that insisted on Petrotrin’s urgent restructuring and which had presented a plan for the initiative to Rowley in February 2017, he asked, “What did he do with it? He supported an incompetent board for months. Now we’re at the point where he has awoken and tells the country that it is urgent.”
Roget expressed suspicion of some “clandestine approach now to come and reorganise it in their own image and likeness.”
He agreed, “Yes, it is urgent, yes we want to restructure, but not in the image and likeness of the PNM. The PNM is bankrupt of ideas. This Prime Minister is bankrupt of ideas. It could not be different if he appoints someone in the calibre of Wilfred Espinet to run Petrotrin.”