President General of the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union Ancel Roget has given the assurance that their acquisition of the former Petrotrin refinery will benefit every single citizen in T&T.
Receiving the news of their success during a walkabout in Point Fortin in support of two Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) local government candidates yesterday afternoon, Roget and union members broke out in celebration, chanting to union songs. Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced in Parliament that OWTU-owned Patrotic Energies and Technologies Services Ltd, won the bid for the refinery with an offer of US$700 million. Some 70 bids were initially made for the refinery’s acquisition. It is the first time in the history of T&T that a union has taken control of a state enterprise, one that was once considered a major revenue earner. Speaking with the media at Newlands, Mahaica, shortly after receiving the news, Roget said, “While everybody was preparing for the celebration of Christmas last year, on December 17 the OWTU would have been busy with the process of incorporating a company for the acquisition of the refinery and that company is the Patriotic Energy and Technologies Services Ltd.”
He said this was something the union and the people deserved. “I also want to say that the acquisition of the refinery for the OWTU on our part is not just for the Petrotrin workers, it’s for the Petrotrin workers that is a fact. It is not just for the OWTU members, it is for the OWTU members that is also a fact, but it is for and behalf all of the people of T&T. We did this on the focus of the country, knowing full well that if that refinery had gotten into any other hands it would not have benefited T&T. We would have struggled, we would have prayed, we would have fasted and at the end of the day the Almighty God would have showered blessings on us not just us but on the people of T&T,” he said.
He added: “The people T&T certainly deserve a lot more and we are going to ensure that our acquisition of those assets do not go in vain. It will go for every single citizen that walks this land.”
Thanking all well wishers and members who supported the union in every step of the journey, he said, “The acquisition of those assets is not a gift from the Government. We did not get any gratis or nobody did us any favour. We deserve it, the people deserve it.”
Roget suggested that not all the workers who were fired will be rehired. “All of the workers who were in support of the union for the acquisition of those assets, those workers will not be disappointed,” he said.
Roget said their first order of business will be a national prayer service to give thanks to God. The company, he said, will also have to receive its formal document from the Government stating that they had acquired the refinery.
“Once that occurs we will be able to take it from there,” he said.
In due time, he said the board members of Patriotic Energy and Technologies Services Ltd will be disclosed.
Last year Roget, in an interview with Guardian Media, indicated that a foreign investor was interested in partnering with OWTU in a joint venture lease of the refinery.
The Government claimed the state oil company was losing money and Petrotrin was shut down on November 30. Thousands of workers were terminated.
The assets were divided into four companies, Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd, Heritage Petroleum Company, Paria Fuel Trading Company and Guaracara Refinery Ltd.