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Petrotrin wins injunction- Workers must go back on the job (with CNC3 video)
Petrotrin workers were ordered back to work last night, after lawyers representing the state-owned company won an injuction against the OWTU at the Industrial Court in Port-of-Spain. The company took the action as it faces an estimated $700 million in gross revenue losses since the workers’ strike started last Tuesday.
A statement from Petrotrin’s head of corporate communications, Gillian Friday, confirmed Petrotrin had applied to the Industrial Court for an Order against the OWTU last Monday. “The application was in respect of the commission of an industrial relations offence contrary to Section 63 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) by taking industrial action not in conformity with Part V of the Act,” the release said.
During an interview on the CNC 3 Morning Show on Monday, Petrotrin chairman Khalid Hassanali said the company could not pay $145 million in profit sharing to workers because they did not make a profit in 2009-2010. He said Petrotrin conformed to international accounting practices so there is no truth to the union allegation that the accounting audit was tampered with to show a loss.
“We are the custodian of plenty assets and we have to make sure that we service the employees and shareholders,” Hassanali said. “We have many stakeholders, including Bond Holders International, and we have to conform to international accounting practices.” However, OWTU president general Ancel Roget said the court action would not solve the crisis at Petrotrin.
“Workers will go back to work feeling demotivated and demoralised,” he said. “An injunction doesn’t take care of poor management or nepotism. We need to remove the political interference from the company because only this will make Petrotrin efficient.” He added that workers will continue to fight for a safe working environment. He said Petrotrin must fill all 800 vacancies and make casual workers permanent, instead of making political appointments in an already top-heavy company.
Roget also said the union has not made any contact with Petrotrin board chairman Lindsay Gillette. “Imagine Petrotrin is a multi-billion state enterprise which is losing money because of an injustice...The refinery is down and the producing fields are down, yet we cannot find him,” he said. He said if Petrotrin is losing $100 million per day the company should consider paying $145 million in profit sharing to avoid further losses.
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