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OWTU issues warning to T&TEC: Improve safety measures or face industrial action
The Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) is threatening the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) with industrial action if the company fails to meet union demands for investigations and stricter adherence to safety regulations.
The union claims that negligence by T&TEC management resulted in five on-the-job fatalities within the past 11 months.
OWTU president general Ancel Roget and vice-president Peter Burke held a press conference at the OWTU Paramount Building, Royal Road, San Fernando, yesterday morning after a T&TEC contractor Gayadeen Lokhoor was electrocuted in Point Fortin on Saturday morning. Roget claimed T&TEC was “exploiting” the use of contract workers who were in many cases “not competent or inexperienced.”
He added that the “proliferation” of contract workers used by T&TEC was not in keeping with the collective agreement between T&TEC and the OWTU. He also accused T&TEC senior management of being in “collusion” with contractors who had more than one fatality on their records. Roget announced three demands:
• The removal of all errant contractors;
• an independent investigation of three specific contractors with alleged connections to T&TEC senior management; and
• in independent investigation into regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Agency, the line ministry, Industrial Court and Regulated Industries Commission.
The regulatory agencies were also accused of being in collusion with T&TEC management. Although a timeline has not yet been established, Roget said the union would respond with protest action if the demands were not met. Burke said T&TEC was not only negligent to safety regulations but had allowed insurance for workers to lapse for three days in July which he described as “reckless.”
Lokhoor, 46, of Ramjohn Trace, Penal, worked for N&S Electrical. On Saturday, Lokhoor’s shoulder came into contact with a line which he believed was dead. His upper left side was burnt. He died on arrival at the Point Fortin Area Hospital. Lokhoor’s common-law wife Aarika Mendoza said although her husband was not certified, he had worked for various electrical companies since he was 25 years old.
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