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Protest costs Petrotrin $700m (with CNC3 video)
The protest action by Petrotrin workers has cost the company $700 million in gross revenue losses. And although the workers have returned to work after an Industrial Court order, it will take another two to three weeks before the company begins production, resulting in further significant losses for the company, Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali said yesterday. For every day the plant is unable to produce, he estimated it would lose a further $100 million a day.
Hassanali said: “Petrotrin does not have an on-and-off switch. There is a structured way of starting back the company, safety precautions which have to be taken before starting up the refinery, after such industrial action. “This may take some weeks, two to three weeks,” he said. He explained that the protest action undertaken by the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) effectively shut down operations, not only at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, but throughout the entire company, including its offshore and onshore facilities.
“We are already in the process of getting things back up all over the country,” he confirmed. After seven days of continuous work stoppage, the company on Tuesday went to the Industrial Court and successfully got an injunction to compel the OWTU, which accused the company of failing to honour a number of negotiated agreements, to cease the action, deemed illegal, and return to work.
The company was represented by attorneys Russell Martineau, SC, Addison Khan and Allister Khan, while the OWTU was represented by Stuart Young, Michael Quamina and Anthony Bullock. Yesterday, Hassanali said the OWTU, its members and officers had an obligation to go back to work. “To do otherwise would be in contempt of court,” he said.
The Energy Chamber has also thrown its support behind Petrotrin, “in their efforts to bring these inappropriate actions to an end. Petrotrin and the OWTU will return to the court tomorrow to deal with the current matter. OWTU president general Ancel Roget confirmed that workers all returned to duty yesterday. “Notwithstanding, they are unhappy and the issues are unresolved,” he said.
Education and research officer Ozzie Warrick said among the issues being contested was a $145 million profit-sharing payment to workers for the period 2009-2010. “Forcing workers back on the job does not necessarily mean you can force them to work. The issues affecting workers have not been resolved, and as a result, there is low enthusiasm, low morale and no motivation,” Warrick said.
Strike will affect all citizens
In a release yesterday, the Energy Chamber said it was backing Petrotrin in its current battle with the OWTU. “The Energy Chamber of Trinidad & Tobago fully supports the management of Petrotrin in their efforts to bring these inappropriate actions to an end. Good industrial relations practices in accordance with the law must prevail,” the release said.
It said increasing oil production was a key national policy objective and represents the most important short-term measure to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago returns to a balanced national budget. “The current work stoppages initiated by Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union are therefore particularly poorly timed and destructive and have already led to a significant curtailment of crude oil production in addition to shutting down the oil refinery. This has negative implications for all citizens of Trinidad & Tobago,” the release said.
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