Even in the face of an injunction from the High Court, protests continued outside Lennox Petroleum Services (LPS) in San Fernando on Thursday as former workers led by the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union demanded some $30 million in backpay owed to them since 2015.
The workers set up a large banner outside the company’s headquarters at Princess Margaret Street promising to take legal action against the company.
However, LPS managing director Wayne Persad claimed company officials were being threatened by protesters and they had no choice but to file an injunction preventing the OWTU from entering their premises.
In a statement, Persad said the company does not employ 250 workers but had only 25 staff members. Accusing the OWTU of trespassing on its compound and assaulting a security guard, Persad said, “On August 29, the OWTU forcibly entered the compound and assaulted by beating, a security officer. The members of the OWTU, who were about 40 members strong, then proceeded to search the compound, shouting the Chief Executive Officer’s name, and asking him to come out.
Consistent with our company’s emergency policies and procedures, the police were notified of the intrusion and responded within minutes.”
Saying the actions of the OWTU’s members were “criminal in nature and amounted to trespass,” Persad said the company had since filed an injunction in the High Court to prevent any further acts of trespassing as the OWTU have threatened to continue their action.
“The acts of the OWTU were extremely unwarranted and were designed to intimidate our company’s management and staff,” Persad said.
He said on Monday it received correspondence from the OWTU that the dispute over backpay was forwarded to the Ministry of Labour and a meeting is scheduled for September 11.
Noting that the company’s founder, Pamela Persad, passed away on August 18, he said the company was in transition and the union had exploited the company’s present vulnerabilities. He also said none of the 25 staff members were OWTU members and none of the protesters were company employees.
“Therefore, it is not correct to say that the OWTU protested in solidarity with our company’s workers and none of the said protesters were authorised to be on our company’s compound. Since the protest, members of our management and staff have received numerous threatening phone calls and text messages. Our company wishes to advise that it shall take every possible measure to ensure the safety of our management and staff, and will be prosecuting every person who threatens the safety of our employees to the fullest extent of the law,” Persad added.
He also said his company was the only labour service provider in T&T with a settled Collective Bargaining Agreement for the period 2018-2020 and is presently without a labour service contract. He said his company has also not withheld any legitimate payment which is due to any worker.
OWTU’s Chief labour relations officer Lyndon Mendoza and president general Ancel Roget could not be reached for comment.