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OWTU executive member Ernesto Kesar at yesterday’s news conference outside Yara.

The Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) is seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister of Labour and the management of Yara. The union wants the minister to intervene in the impending retrenchment of 15 Yara employees carded for January 2, 2021.

Ernesto Kesar, executive member of the OWTU, and other union members held a news conference outside Yara’s Point Lisas plant on Wednesday.

Kesar said, “The union is seeking an urgent intervention by the Minister of Labour to avoid tremendous job losses and hardship to the company and the workers and their families. The union is ready to meet at any time.”

Retrenchment notices were issued to 15 employees on November 18 and notices were also sent to the union in accordance with the law. The Union responded on November 19 seeking a meeting with Yara and also objected to the reasons given by Yara for retrenching the workers.

He said Yara indicated that they had difficulties that included a fixed gas supply with NGC at a fixed price. Gas is purchased on a month to month basis.

Kesar said the union is still in negotiations with Yara for almost a year for the period August 1, 2019, to July 31, 2022.

Kesar said the OWTU indicated that it is willing to work with Yara on the company’s issues. He said the OWTU gave Yara a list of proposals on December 3, 2020, that indicated how the employees can be re-deployed into vacant jobs and vacant bargaining unit jobs which were either not filled because of natural attrition or were held by contract workers.

He said contract workers are not supposed to hold bargaining unit jobs. These included clerks, draughtsman, mechanical technicians, procurement officers and engineers.

Kesar said the OWTU has asked the Minister since December 21 to intervene since under section 11, subsection 1 and 2 the Retrenchment and Benefits Act the minister can respond.

On December 22, he said, an email was sent to the minister requesting intervention and a meeting, receipt was acknowledged by the Ministry of Labour. On December 23 a hardcopy was sent and the Minister who is yet to respond.