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Roget tells motorists: Fill up now
President general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget is advising motorists to fill up their tanks as a reliable supply of gas cannot be guaranteed over the coming days. He gave the warning in an interview with reporters after a three-hour meeting with Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine at his Waterfront Complex office, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.
“In the meantime fill up your tanks because we are not sure that we can guarantee a reliable supply of gasoline to the motoring public,” Roget added. He said workers have important roles to play in ensuring there was gasoline at the pumps. “Those persons involved in the provision of that gasoline, they must be highly respected, properly paid and compensated and more than that, they must be safe while they do that type of production,” Roget said.
Asked if Petrotrin workers would walk off the job again, Roget said that decision would be taken if a meeting scheduled with the board today was unsuccessful. He insisted Petrotrin must be allowed to maximise resources of the state, via the proposed bunkering facility. Roget said the OWTU would not allow the bunkering issue to die. He said the operation of a bunkering facility was a lucrative business and Petrotrin should be allowed to operate that facility in the interest of the people of T&T and not any private company.
He said he wanted to know what link Bunkers Oil T&T Limited company had with the Government and alleged there was more corruption in T&T since the People’s Partnership was elected to Government in 2010. Roget said yesterday’s meeting with the Energy Minister included issues including variable payment for Petrotrin workers and the filing of outstanding vacancies at the state-owned company.
He said while the matter of the filling of vacancies was for the board, he claimed it was being done in a manner to allow those close to the Government to secure those positions. Labour Minister Errol McLeod walked past Roget at the end of the interview, without greeting him. McLeod is a former president general of the union. Meanwhile, Ramnarine spoke with reporters at a separate news conference in his office minutes later.
He said the issues of the filling of vacancies and the variable payment to workers were to be addressed by the Petrotrin board. Ramnarine said the meeting went well. “We are better informed on the concerns of the OWTU,” he added. The minister said despite claims by Roget, no licence had been granted to Bunkers Oil Trinidad and Tobago Limited to operate the facility. He said a conditional approval was given because of the expenditure involved in establishing the company.
Ramnarine said nothing could be done by the company until a licence was granted. He said it would only be granted after a due diligence study was done by his ministry. He said based on Roget’s concerns about the need for Petrotrin to be engaged in the project, the company would do a commercial evaluation of the business opportunities that presented itself in the process of bunkering.
Questioned about the industrial action at the company, Ramnarine said he preferred to wait and see if the workers would walk off again mere days after they returned to their jobs. He said if further industrial unrest took place the ministry had contingency plans in the interest of the national community.
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