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OWTU to battle for 6 dismissed Petrotrin workers
Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union president general Ancel Roget says no stone will be left unturned when the union tackles Petrotrin over the dismissal of six employees who are being held responsible for last December’s oil spill disaster. At a press conference at the union’s San Fernando headquarters on Tuesday, Roget said the dismissal was a ploy to cover up Petrotrin management’s gross negligence in maintaining infrastructure, which led to over 7,000 barrels of oil being leaked into the Gulf of Paria. Roget said: “The issue of the dismissals will be taken through the grievances procedure and the workers will get the representation that the OWTU is accustomed to giving.
“We are confident that every single worker will be returned to their jobs but we are also aware that the management, because of the system, because of the industrial relations procedure as it relates to the Industrial Relations Act currently, that they will abuse it. They will use their deep pockets in the meantime to deflect all of those issues from themselves.” Although the OWTU was represented on the committee investigating the oil spill, Roget said no part of the report said the workers were culpable and that action would be taken against them. Denying Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali’s explanation of how the six workers’ negligence caused the environmental disaster, Roget said if the line had not been corroded there would have been no spill. He said every time there was a leak, the lines would be patched but that did not mean they were properly maintained.
He added: “It is not the workers who are responsible, it is the management who are responsible in the first place for not effecting their work programmes that led to sealine number ten rupturing,” he said. “The president said that it was inspected and that once it was inspected, that no faults were found with the line. “That is another one of the many lies they were telling, because if and when the evidence comes to the fore, it will show that the lines were not inspected since 1996. If we did not have the rupturing of the line, certainly the oil would not have gone into the sea.”
He said: “At the rate at which pumping occurs, you would have had a lot of oil going into the sea before you could have made any kind of recovery.
“The systems in place to allow for recovery efforts, all of those things are captured in the report and the investigation. “That is why are saying that instead of allowing the management to skew the investigations in their own interest, we should have an independent inquiry into what occurred. You cannot expect Petrotrin to investigate itself.” On the specific report that led to the firing of the workers, he said: “In the case of what occurred, an investigation team handed the report to the management. “The management sanitised the report. They did what they want with the report, quoted from a report that nobody had seen and then took action against workers who ought to be on the job at the same time.