Turnaround expert Anthony Watkins says the decision to start afresh at state owned Petrotrin was the right one. Given the history of the company, nothing else could have been done.
“Sometimes we essentially have to clear the ground and rebuild something that is fit for purpose and more importantly fit for future,” he said in an interview on CNC3’s The Morning Brew yesterday.
Watkins said simply “tweaking” and making changes and adjustments would not have achieved “what has to be done to sustain the organisation or to be fair to the economy of Trinidad and Tobago.” A difficult decision had to be made by the Government and “they have to proceed with that,” he added.
Watkins, whose expertise is in adapting fundamental behavourial science knowledge in an evolving business context, said the communication gap in the Petrotrin issue stemmed from the fact that “everybody sees it from where they are.” He said he is not certain there is the “climate or conditions for persons to understand it from the other person’s point of view.”
“There are ideologies which can imprison persons and not allow them to see each other’s perspectives,” he said.
Watkins said while the court issue between the company and the OWTU has escalated significantly, in recent years the courts themselves have been encouraging mediation and arbitration.
He added: “I can guarantee you if you sat with some of these people individually, what you hear from them is not what you hear when they are in a public place. It is not so much the public space but the constituencies which they serve. If I am a labour leader I may know in my heart there are things that need to happen, but there are things that just don’t sit well with the ideology or the expectation of my membership,” he said.
The key is getting the parties “to a place where they are prepared to have some conversations about that,” he said.
Watkins said while the issues of money and the finances are clear, the discussion must also focus on the affected workers with their skills and experience.
“How does the country manage that pool of talent, how do we leverage that, how do we take these people and begin to challenge or invite them to develop businesses with their skills that are transferable to some other sector?” he asked.
Watkins believes there are entrepreneurial and diversification opportunities for the workers leaving Petrotrin “that will bring life not just to them but the communities they live in.”