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Roget requests meeting with PM
President general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget wants to know why Petrotrin chairman Lindsay Gillette and other directors are still on the job after costly oil spills at La Brea and elsewhere last month. Roget raised the issue with reporters moments after presenting a letter addressed to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the recent spills and mismanagement by the Petrotrin board.
It was received by press secretary Francis Joseph at the Office of the Prime Minister shortly after 10 am yesterday. Joseph promised to deliver it to the PM. The OWTU leader and more than 30 other members went to deliver the letter but Persad-Bissessar was at an official engagement at another venue. Roget said they were requesting the meeting in the interest of all stakeholders and he was confident Persad-Bissessar would respond appropriately because of its national importance.
The OWTU wanted to meet with Persad-Bissessar, he said, because “the only person we could turn to in this moment of crisis for our national oil company is the Prime Minister herself.” He claimed that privatisation of the company would be the next move by the Petrotrin management.
Roget said the union wanted to present the facts of the oil spills to the Prime Minister as the company was engaged in a cover-up exercise. In response to questions, Roget denied OWTU members had issued threats to anyone, as claimed by the company. He said the allegation was frivolous and intended to divert attention from the facts of the recent spills. ”We are not about threats, the only threat we would make is that we will stand in defence of the national interest and the people of T&,” he said.
Roget noted that threat had been issued since 1937 when the labour movement was established and OWTU was not bothered or deterred by the allegation. There have been more that 11 oil spills at oil installations in December last year. Petrotrin contracted the Florida-based firm Oil Spills Response Ltd to clean up beaches in the La Brea area at a cost of more than $8 million. Fisherfolk and residents of the communities have been adversely affected by the spills.
The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) last week fined Petrotrin $20 million for environmental breaches as a result of the oil spills, which have been devastating flora and fauna in the southwestern part of the country.