Despite assurances from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar there will be no fuel shortages following the threat of a strike at Petrotrin, premium and diesel fuel ran out at several service stations in San Fernando yesterday. Signs, stating "sorry no diesel", were posted at the Rahamut Service Station, Cross Crossing, San Fernando. Traffic backed up as far as Duncan Village as motorists lined up to fill up their vehicles following reports that the strike will begin on Saturday.
At the NP Quik Shoppe, Cross Crossing, there was no premium gas or diesel. Service attendants tried unsuccessfully to regulate the traffic flow as motorists converged from every direction, trying to get to the gas pump. At the station on Rushworth Street, San Fernando, traffic was backed up along the San Fernando Bypass. A sign saying "no diesel" was placed near the pump.
A pump attendant told the T&T Guardian fuel tanks were already running low but tankers were operating so a fresh supply would be be available later in the day. "People are panic-buying. We are getting fuel but it is coming slowly," the attendant added. At Boodoosingh Service Station on Lady Hailes Avenue, pump attendants were sent home early after fuel ran out.
On Sunday, Persad-Bissessar assured there would be no gas shortages as Government had contingency plans in the event that the OWTU made good on its strike threat. At 9 am yesterday, OWTU's president general, Ancel Roget, served official strike notice to Petrotrin's president Kenneth Allum. The company later stated in a release it had offered a five per cent wage increase over three years, while the union wanted 75 per cent. Petrotrin also said it offered an enhanced housing allowance, noting that the lowest paid Petrotrin worker gets $11,000 a month.
However, Roget denied that, saying it was a "malicious, deceptive lie." He said Petrotrin workers risked their lives and limb to fuel the economy of T&T and deserved every cent. He said it was unfair for Petrotrin to compare the oil industry to the public sector, since Petrotrin workers had to pay additional insurance premiums because of the high-risk nature of their jobs.