With the general election just six days away, the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) is calling on Government to complete the acquisition of the Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery before electors head to the polls.
OWTU president general Ancel Roget said if Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s wants his promise of land for former Petrotrin workers to have any credibility, he should ensure that the deal goes through this week.
At a media conference at the OWTU’s Paramount Building headquarters, in San Fernando, yesterday, Roget said the refinery under Unions’ Patriotic Energies and Technologies Co. Ltd will provide 6500 jobs in an economy struggling with unemployment.
In a message to former Petrotrin workers and citizens affected by the company’s closure, he advised them to pay close attention to what happens in the coming week and vote based on how they feel. Roget said a member of the Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd (TPHL) negotiating team, who sat on a committee that shutdown Petrotrin in December 2018, was operating in bad faith, pushing the deal back. He said there is suspicion that the committee member is an agent of a political party that is campaigning on a State-operated refinery.
He said the actions seem to show that the committee is running the agreement down to elections day. In a recent interview, United National Congress chairman Dr David Lee said a UNC government would restart the refinery, operated by the State.
“There are many stumbling blocks being placed in our way. It seems as even though the Prime Minister is saying one thing, that team just does not want us to close at all,” Roget said. Giving a chronology of the last month, Roget said that on July 14, Patriotic signed a document outlining the requirements to complete the acquisition. By July 17, Patriotic reduced the number of issues to six and after the meeting, committed to providing solutions at a July 20 session. He said after an 11-hour discussion at the negotiating table, they resolved all issues and a drafted a document reflecting the discussions and agreements. On July 27, Patriotic submitted that document to TPHL.Roget said last Friday’s response from TPHL was horrendous.“When we thought you would have had a response on the six areas that we would have agreed to, whether or not they found that we reflected the agreement or not, that team went back into some 22 other issues, totally unrelated to the six issues that we had outstanding. In other words, negative progress was made. They took the opportunity in extremely bad faith, reopened areas that were covered and introduced new areas that were never even discussed. That has to be the highest order of bad faith,” Roget said.
He said TPHL also sent their new issues to the inter-ministerial team overseeing the acquisition.