RADHICA DE SILVA
In the wake of the Prime Minister's announcement that the Petrotrin Pointe-a-Pierre refinery will be sold, black flags have been hoisted by the Oilfield Workers' Trade Union outside Trinmar's operations "to mark the darkness shrouding the troubled oil company."
The union has also started mobilisation of all temporary, casual and permanent staff from Petrotrin and Trinmar who live and work in the southwestern peninsula.
OWTU teams have also been throughout Cedros, Point Fortin, Fullarton, Icacos and Cap-de-Ville planting union flags and whipping up support for a mass meeting to be held at the old jetty carpark at Bonasse Village, Cedros, from 5 pm today.
In a message shared widely in the communities, the OWTU threatened to expose "the real reason why the refinery is to be closed and how Petrotrin could be saved.
In a voice note, an OWTU spokesman said, "This is a call to all Petrotrin/Trinmar workers... come and hear the facts as to why we must fight for the jobs of more than 10,000 workers who are being told to go home by this Government led by Prime Minister Rowley. Come and hear how Petrotrin can be saved and why we believe that the Government wants to send home workers to protect party financiers from prosecution. Come out and be a part of the biggest fight ever. Let us save the business community, save our jobs and protect the social and economic life of southwestern Trinidad."
Meanwhile, Penal business owners are also discussing the impact the closure of the refinery will have on their operations.
Rabindranath Ramlogan, who gave 44 years of his life as a Texaco and then Petrotrin worker, called on all workers and citizens to unite to stop the Government from selling off the refinery, which he described as T&T's patrimony.
Ramlogan vowed to devote the rest of his life to stop the shutdown, saying it was an attack on the OWTU and will plunge citizens into a recession the likes of which has never been seen in T&T.
Some Petrotrin workers who attended a meeting on Saturday said they could not sleep since the announcement of mass layoffs were made.
Russel Sankar said, "I am concerned for my family. We have bills and a loan. My wife does not work and we have two children. I will have to get something to do."