Big wages and salaries at Petrotrin. An average $45,000 monthly wage bill per Petrotrin refinery worker, $21,000 monthly per temporary worker and a $616 daily rate for labourers, plus a $70,000 monthly overtime earning for one carpenter.
Those figures were given by Energy Minister Franklin Khan at Tuesday night’s People’s National Movement meeting at the Marabella Community Centre where the Petrotrin restructuring plan was dealt with.
Khan said even a labourer in a company contracted by Petrotrin to cut the grass receives the same wages under the union agreement for Petrotrin labourers.
“... $616 per day. Yet CEPEP workers only getting $80 a day,” he said
Khan said wages/salaries occupied 52.8 per cent of operating costs. The latter was $4.1 billion annually and salaries/wages, $2.19 billion. Petrotrin has 3,437 permanent employees, he added.
“The wage bill is 1.87b annually. The average wage bill per employee is $45,000 a month, ministers don’t even take home $45,000,” he said.
The annual wage bill for the 1,229 non-permanent (casual/temporary) workers is $320 million, a monthly average wage bill per temporary worker of $21,000, he said.
The company’s overtime (OT) bill is constantly averaging $22.7 million per month. He said when he found overtimes was “out of whack,” he sought a list of the top OT earners.
“One was a carpenter who earned $70,000 a month in overtime, I don’t know if the refinery was made of wood,” Khan said, adding they were “by and large responsible for their own demise.”
Khan’s wage figures were greeted with shouts of “Lies!.... Lies!” from a group of Petrotrin workers who tried to attend the meeting. A mixture of permanent and temporary workers with service from four to 25 years, they initially stood on the street. One held a small OWTU flag.
They later walked into the centre’s yard. On reaching the door they were blocked by two police inspectors. The workers said they wanted to attend the meeting. Ten Guard and Emergency police (in riot gear) then reinforced blockage of the door. Plainclothes police stood behind them.
The meeting featured an unusually heavy police presence from 6 pm before attendees’ arrival. A police bus and Jeeps brought more reinforcements. Plainclothes and Special Branch officers abounded, all told there were almost as many police as attendees at the small centre.
Despite being blocked, the workers maintained their stance. When they said they wanted to go into the meeting, one PNM official muttered, “Leh dem send their questions when the Prime Minister meeting JTUM Thursday.”
When the PM’s turn to speak arrived, the workers turned their backs and walked away.
But UNC Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee yesterday knocked the party’s refusal to allow the workers entry to the meeting.
“It was disingenuous to say it was a public meeting yet turn away workers who wanted to attend. Some Petrotrin workers live in Marabella, they might have wanted to hear what explanations Government wanted to present, that was the reason for holding the meeting in Marabella,” he said.
“If the workers were feeling distressed before the meeting they would have felt more upset at being treated as a threat, such handling is what creates problems. Also, were they provoked by some PNMites’ reactions? If they didn’t want people interested in Petrotrin to attend the meeting, why come to Marabella?”
Meanwhile, noting Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s claim at the meeting that Petrotrin “hid” its true accounts, UNC MP Roodal Moonilal said, “Auditors refer to ‘deferred taxes’. Government put nine politically appointed people in positions, fired the professional staff and came up with this loss ‘hiding’ attacking the integrity of the KPMG auditors, an internationally reputable firm,” he said.
He said the Petrotrin issue was a distraction from scrutiny of the Government’s performance in its third anniversary of office tomorrow.