Lawyers for Petrotrin immediately muzzled its chairman Wilfred Espinet after he criticised the Industrial Court during a radio programme on Tuesday.
Espinet was a call-in guest on i95. 5 FM and was questioned on the relevance of both an industrial court and a union.
In a telephone interview with Guardian Media after that radio interview, Espinet said that he can no longer speak on the issue of the Industrial Court or its decision as it could be seen as contempt of the court.
On the programme, Espinet said that both the Industrial Court and the idea of trade unions are outdated and "out of touch" with the realities on the ground.
The board was expected to hold a meeting at 10 am today to detail its three-month transition plan but that was postponed because of the Industrial Court's decision on Monday which ruled in favour of the union and forced the company to hold its hand in the termination of workers.
The company has filed an appeal of that decision at the Appeal Court.
Espinet during his radio interview said that the injunction only protects the unionised staff and more than 300 non-unionised workers have received severance letters.
"I would say that it was structured and given laws in the context of a different time. I think the time has come now for us to review it like we review everything else to see if it is relevant in today's environment," Espinet said.
He said he would feel the same way about the Industrial Court even if it ruled in favour of the company and not the union.
"This is not an unusual situation. We may want to review the Industrial Relations Act, we may want to do a number of things because the court has gone into a stage now where it may not be relevant to the context of what's going on," he said.
Despite the criticism, Espinet said he worked with unions in the past both locally and abroad and had a lot of respect for them.
"This is an expression as an individual and I have absolutely no problem with a union. I do have a problem when some of what we are doing does not make sense," he said.
He said once a court rules that the financial situation of a company should not impact on the decision-making process, then "something was wrong".
Espinet said that over 300 workers have already accepted their severance packages.
"Well, you know that the court ruling was very specific. This is only for members of the OWTU or those people working under the various collective agreements of the OWTU," he said.
"I think there are more than 300, in terms of the people, involved in certain areas. It is more than that," he said.
Espinet said according to his own feedback people, in general, have been more accommodating to the idea that the refinery was about to shut down.
"It would useful for someone to go into the company and do a proper analysis of the feedback, as you know the union is the exclusive bargaining agent for the employees. You cannot have an arrangement with an employee as the employee loses their individual rights," he said.
- by Renuka Singh