Vice Chairperson Policy,
Advocacy and Projects
Commonwealth Youth Council
President of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union Ancel Roget says he is concerned about the lives of workers at state-owned Petrotrin. His comment follows a confirmation from the company that one of its pump technicians, Sharaz Karim, was burnt at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery on Wednesday evening. A release from its corporate communication department stated at 6 pm on Wednesday, Karim, of the Refining and Marketing Division, was completing works on the No 10 Boiler Fan at the Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery when he was injured. During start-up, the turbine safety exhaust valve activated, releasing steam which burnt parts of his body. Karim was taken to Petrotrin’s Augustus Long Hospital where he was treated. He was expected to be discharged from hospital yesterday evening.
Responding to this latest incident, Roget said: “We fear for the lives of workers employed in Petrotrin operations, particularly as there have been no less than five industrial fatalities at the company. Complaints to the Occupational Safety and Health authority have fallen on deaf ears.” He said the union would be conducting its own investigation as it had little confidence in the company, which was trying to shut the union out. He said at 6 pm yesterday, he had no information from the company inviting the union to be part of the investigation team. “I am concerned about the number of near missess and accidents that continue to occur at Petrotrin and we have other concerns about the integrity of the operation,” he added. Roget said they had written to the Occupational Health and Safety Authority on that issue last year and after an inordinate period it responded by only acknowledging receipt of the correspondence.
He said officials of the authority spoke to the company but not the union and since then the union’s attorney had written to the authority, pointing out its duty to respond, without success.
“We believe something is amiss. Something funny is going on with the chief inspector at the OSH Authority and we intend to take legal action,” he added. He said the union continued to raise questions about the operation, safety and integrity of the company but the company was attempting to silence them with pre-action protocol letters. “We are not taken aback by the scare tactics,” he added.