One year after Yara Trinidad Ltd announced the closure of its wholly-owned ammonia plant at Point Lisas, its workers were yesterday instructed to attend a meeting today with company officials.
It is believed the meeting, which will be held by their line managers and the human resource manager, will be to discuss retrenchment terms.
On November 13, 2019, Yara announced the closure of its ammonia plant, citing plant profitability and failed negotiations with the National Gas Company of Trinidad (NGC).
Yesterday, employees either received a phone call or were notified via emailed to attend the meeting.
A copy of the letter sent to employees, which Guardian Media obtained, advises, “You may opt to have your union representative present at the aforementioned meeting.”
Employees are represented by the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union, whose president-general Ancel Roget. In January, the OWTU stood in solidarity with workers who staged a protest over possible job cuts. It was reported back then that 70 workers were likely to face the breadline.
The ammonia plant is one of three operated by Yara Trinidad. The remaining two plants, Tringen I and Tringen II, are jointly owned by Yara International ASA and National Enterprises Ltd.
“All the workers received letters except corporate staff. We are talking about engineers, process operators and maintenance technicians among others. Everyone is uneasy because we don’t know what is going to happen at this meeting,” one affected worker told Guardian Media.
“We strongly suspect we will receive our termination letters tomorrow (today). I don’t know if I will be able to sleep tonight.”
The worker, who has 16 years’ service, said many of his colleagues had been hoping to be absorbed in the other two plants.
“To be given termination letters one month before Christmas would be a devastating blow. It will kill us. Many of the workers have loans, mortgages and GATE fees to pay.”
The worker said there had been talk that workers will receive severance benefits.
“But no one is certain how it will be calculated. So we don’t know what to expect.”
Guardian Media was told that since Yara shut down the plant, employees have been reporting to work as normal and receiving their salaries.
“Some areas of the plant still has to be maintained,” the worker said.
Calls to Roget’s cellphone last night went unanswered.