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The usual threats and protests

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The restructuring of debt-ridden Petrotrin was always going to be a difficult undertaking given the contentious relationship that has always existed between the management of the state-owned energy company and the majority bargaining unit for its workers, the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU).

It is therefore not surprising that once again there are rumblings from within the union and that its outspoken president general Ancel Roget is warning of more protests if certain demands are not met.

The OWTU is, understandably, mobilising to protect the jobs of its members at Petrotrin, since retrenchment is expected to be among the fallout of the restructuring. They are also calling for the removal of the company’s chairman, Wilfred Espinet, the man with the unenviable task of steering the current exercise to transform Petrotrin in a lean and efficient entity.

This is a challenging process and disagreements and misunderstandings are to be expected. What must be avoided, however, are unfounded allegations and misinformation which will only make a difficult situation worse. This can be avoided with regular, open dialogue involving all sides. There is no indication, from all that Mr Roget has said over the past few days, that any such conversations are currently taking place.

If that is the case, the Espinet-led board of Petrotrin needs to facilitate more communication with the OWTU and the union should be open to more dialogue before going the usual route of threats and protests
Well deserved honours

For more than four decades, the Mighty Shadow (Winston Bailey) has inspired, challenged and entertained with his chart-topping calypsoes. His unique performance style and lyrics have earned him many awards and titles over the years, including National Calypso Monarch and Road March champion. In a few weeks, he will be known as Dr Shadow when he is conferred with an honorary doctorate by The University of the West Indies.

It is an honour well deserved by Shadow and the other distinguished recipients of that honour, including ALTA founder Paula Lucie-Smith, cricket legend Shivnarine Chanderpaul, former Bahamas prime minister Hubert Ingraham and Prof Dermott Kelleher, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Border alert

Health authorities in this country should be alert to the fact of a deadly measles outbreak in Brazil spread by Venezuelans moving across the border to escape the social and economic turmoil in their country. This begs the question for us: Are there any systems in place to detect and deal with any diseases that can spread through T&T’s many porous maritime borders?


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