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Court denies Petrotrin an extended injunction
Petrotrin has failed in its attempt to extend its injunction against the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), to stop union members from engaging in protest action at the state-owned oil and gas company. In dismissing the application yesterday, president of the Industrial Court Deborah Thomas-Felix said the court did not think it was necessary as the company had not brought any further complaint against the union since the injunction was granted in March last year.
She also stated that the company failed to convince the court that it will suffer irreparable damage or irredeemable prejudice if the injunction was not extended. Petrotrin was granted the injunction in March, after the union engaged in a week of protest at the company’s Operating Fields and Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery over an estimated $145 million in variable pay, for the period 2009/2010, which the union claimed is owed to them. The company claimed that the protest action had cost the State almost $700 million in losses in one week.
As a result, the company claimed that it could not pay any bonus to workers as it had not made a profit during that period. The company applied for the extention, after the injunction expired, two weeks ago. The injunction formed part of a substantive complaint against the OWTU under Section 63 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act for taking strike action which was not in conformity with the Act. In her oral judgment, Thomas-Felix noted that the compliant was yet to be determined and had been delayed by Petrotrin’s application.
She said that an injunction from the court was unnecessary as the company has a statutory guarantee that the union will not engage in protest while the complaint was being determined. Thomas-Felix said if the union was found to breach this, there were penalties under the Industrial Relations Act, that would be applicable. She also advised the company’s attorneys that if they chose to appeal the court’s decision on the issue while the industrial relations compliant was determined by Industrial Court, it may be deemed purely academic.
Industrial Court judges Albert Aberdeen, Kyril Jack and Nizam Khan, also sat on yesterday’s panel. Senior Counsel Russell Martineau, Ravi Khan and Allister Khan represented Petrotrin while Anthony Bullock appeared for OWTU.