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Not all workers pleased with agreement

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
OWTU Petrotrin Pointe-a-Pierre Branch President, Ricky Benny, second from right, and former branch president, Foster Harrington, second from left, lead workers back to the job site at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery yesterday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH

While the Oilfields Workers’’ Trade Union (OWTU) claimed victory in persuading Petrotrin to increase its 0-0-0 wage offer to settle at five per cent for the collective bargaining period of 2011-2014, not all workers were pleased with Monday’s agreement.

After weeks of preparing to strike, Petrotrin workers returned to work yesterday with a fresh mandate from the union to increase their productivity.

There were workers who were happy with the increase, but some workers expressed disappointment that the union settled for less than the 10 per cent increase that they initially proposed to the company.

Before leading the workers into the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, former Pointe-a-Pierre branch president for the OWTU, Foster Harrington, told workers to stay loyal to the union and do not vent their discord on Facebook or in the media. He said the union will continue to do what is necessary to ensure workers continue to have jobs and live a comfortable life.

Lyndon Mc Clashie said while he remains loyal to the union, he did not consider the outcome of Monday’s conciliation meeting at the Ministry of Labour as a settlement.

“It was like, give me a five per cent on my pay and I will go back to work while we talk. They are dealing with 2011-2014 right now and the five per cent is going to add to our rates by February 28. Basically it is a small victory.” Mc Clashie said.

Another Trinmar employee said a five per cent increase would add $1,000 to her salary, but after taxes and other deductions, there will not be much left.

“I’ve done a rough calculation thus far on the five per cent and it would roughly add $1000 to my salary. After taxes and deductions, I don’t see it making a dent in my disposable income. I’m not saying that I am satisfied or dissatisfied. I am just one of the few people who are happy to have a job in the current state of the economy and the company because there are a number of people who are worried about mortgages, car payments, kids at UWI and some of them are in school.”

OWTU’s chief education and eesearch officer Ozzi, Warwick, said while some members were not pleased, they should note that the five per cent increase only covers two years with the third year still to be negotiated.

He said there were those who said the five per cent was not enough, while others said an increase was bad for the country. In understanding the current fiscal situation of both the company and the economy, he said the union had to find a balance to benefit all.

At Monday’s meeting with Petrotrin and Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, he said the union was adamant about increasing productivity by implementing proper systems and management structures at the company.


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