Last update: 08-Dec-2013 4:55 am
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Fire entire NP board—Roget
Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget is calling on Government to dismiss the entire board of state-owned National Petroleum and for a forensic audit to be done into the company’s awarding of contracts. His demands follow the suspension of NP CEO Kenneth Mohammed on Wednesday, a week after 68 employees were fired for an allegedly illegal shutdown. Roget said: “We do not know exactly why he was suspended. We are saying it is not just Mohammed to go but it is the entire board of directors and the HR manager, all of whom were involved in the wrongful dismissal of those 68 workers. “Further, we want to say that we have always been complaining about allegations of corruption at NP with the questionable awarding of contracts, contracting out of the workers' jobs and the giving out of the service stations to particular individuals known to be friends and supporters of the Government. “We are calling for a forensic audit of into the operations of the National Petroleum Marketing Company.”
Roget’s comment came as Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine yesterday refused to divulge the reasons for the CEO’s suspension. He said he hoped when Ramnarine met with the NP board today, he would instruct them to reinstate the workers, as they were wrongfully dismissed. Failure to do that, Roget said, would result in the union taking action against the company. He did not say what measures would be taken. Asked what were the union’s options should NP refuse to reinstate the workers, Roget said: “We have mounted a stout legal challenge against the dismissals and that matter is now being pursued. We are confident the workers will be reinstated should that matter go to the court. “While the matter is pending and those workers are left outside, should the company choose not to reinstate them, we will do what we have to do to ensure that they are reinstated. “The nature of that exercise we choose not to disclose at this time for obvious reasons. The element of surprise will be more effective in that regard.”
He denied NP’s claim workers had staged an illegal strike, saying they had taken a stance against unsafe working conditions and corruption at the company. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act workers have to right to refuse to work once their safety is threatened. Section 20 A says: “No employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall dismiss or threaten to dismiss a worker; discipline or suspend or threaten to discipline or suspend a worker; impose any penalty upon a worker, or intimidate or coerce a worker.” Roget said NP management’s claim the OSH Authority had inspected the Sea Lots compound and found it in accordance with the law was untrue. He added: “That is not so. Some 19 violations were discovered and the suspended CEO himself was a part of the investigation team and he was handed that report and he did nothing about it. “So while in the media they are saying the workers’ actions were costing the company money, we are saying that the lack of proactive dealings with health and safety concerns will cost the company money because we are not prepared to work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.”
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