Lennox Petroleum Services Limited has obtained an injunction barring the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) from entering its offices at Princes Margaret Street, San Fernando.
High Court Judge Frank Seepersad granted the injunction after lawyers representing the union failed to appear during a hearing in the San Fernando High Court yesterday.
Seepersad considered the injunction only after certifying that the case, which was filed after OWTU officials stormed the compound on August 29, was urgent enough to be heard during the Judiciary’s annual vacation.
The injunction is set to continue until the substantive case comes up for hearing before Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams after the 2018/2019 Law Term opens next week.
In his affidavit filed in conjunction with the application, the company’s CEO Wayne Persad claimed the dispute with the OWTU arose after its business arrangement with Rowan Drilling (Trinidad) Limited ended in April. The company had been previously contracted to provide labour support and human resource services for three of Rowan’s oil rigs in south Trinidad.
On August 27, the union wrote to the company requesting severance payments and retroactive salaries for Lennox’s former employees, who were sent home after the Rowan arrangement ended.
Persad said based on legal advice the company refused to honour the payments.
Prior to entering Lennox’s property, the OWTU informed the company it would be referring the issue to the Minister of Labour as a trade dispute. Police were then called in and assisted in removing OWTU members from the property.
As part of the injunction application, Persad claimed the protest affected the company’s operations.
“Many of the staff members in the office, who are mostly female, complained that they were fearful for their lives, as the members of the OWTU made advances towards the office areas and spoke and gestured aggressively,” he told the court.
“I am afraid that, unless restrained, the OWTU will continue their protest, and this will disrupt the operations of Lennox, which are already strained since the company is without a labour service contract.” Persad also claimed the OWTU was insensitive in taking the action as it occurred one week after the company’s founder and majority shareholder Pamela Persad was buried.
In addition to declarations that the union trespassed on its property, the company is also seeking compensation for the losses it suffered as a result.
The company is being represented by Thomas Cunningham and Stefan Mungalsingh.