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OWTU claims in oil spill protest: Investing in jeopardy
An independent enquiry into December’s oil spills in south Trinidad is necessary so as not to affect investor confidence in the economy said Ancel Roget, president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU). “That news would have got out internationally since December. We are a global village and information travels so the international business and energy community would be aware of that oil spill. “What they are not aware of is a cover-up by the national oil company. Any well meaning investor would want to know if the state is involved in a cover-up of a major environment disaster,” he said. Roget spoke to the T&T Guardian yesterday at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, while the annual T&T energy conference was going on inside.
He and members of the union held a placard protest outside the venue calling for the removal of Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine over his mishandling of the oil spills. Roget said he was not confident an independent enquiry would actually take place but they would not let the issue rest. “In this country we are not confident about anything good coming from the Government and so it is our responsibility to keep the issue alive and to go from stage to stage and from different sectors of the society calling for this oil spill independent enquiry. Then there is the potential damage not only to the environment but also the economy,” he said. He added when Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was seeking office she met with them but now that her Government had power it was ignoring the labour movement. “For the minister to condemn OWTU I just want to remind that prior to 2010, the same Prime Minister came to us to support her in her quest to become Prime Minister of T&T. “Having become Prime Minister, she has the audacity in the most arrogant way and refused to meet us on the issue of national interest. We are about improving Petrotrin,” he said.
Ramnarine at the Energy conference defended the Government by saying Petrotrin’s infrastructure was decades old and the problem existed before it. “It did not start three years ago. To ensure the safety of the operations we have to embark on a massive facility upgrade of Trinmar. It has already started, the upgrade of the platforms, but now has to be expanded. “That is something I will be talking to the board of Petrotrin about. There is also safety risk around the country and not Trinmar,” he said. He denied that the Government was “playing politics” with the issue and said it would continue dealing with the challenges. He also said he noticed the union protesting outside the Hyatt. “I saw them this morning. I went about my business and I have my job to do as you can see. You could see the environment here and it very positive. We have our job to do and they (OWTU) have their job to do,” he added.