Although the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union is confident in its bid to acquire the mothballed Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery, the union is still calling for answers over the shutting down of Petrotrin.
In his Labour Day speech at Charlie King Junction in Fyzabad on Wednesday, Roget said that it was historic, how many lies a government had told about one issue.
He said that six months after the State-owned oil company was shut down, the country is yet to learn who recommended its closure and how much was spent. He said this was important given the impact it has had on the lives of 45,000 people, including businesses.
“When they announced the closure of Petrotrin they claimed they got experts to advise, but they refused to tell the country exactly who advised them to close the entire company. The Lashley committee said that they themselves never mentioned closure. There is no report to date anywhere that recommended the closure of Petrotrin,” Roget said. In all, he said that over 45,000 people were affected, he claimed.
“The truth is that business throughout the entire southern part of the country, extending as far as the south western peninsula, have been adversely affected by the closure. In some cases, businesses in Port-of-Spain and other parts of the country were also affected because these businesses provided services to Petrotrin.”
While Energy and Energy Industries Minister Franklin Khan had promised enhanced separation packages for the workers, Roget said that up to yesterday, the majority of workers had not been properly compensated. He said some have not yet received any compensation or severance whatsoever. In the case of temporary and casual workers, he said those matters are before the Industrial Court.
Roget was adamant that the expenditure for Petrotrin given by the government was wrong. He said Khan failed the tell the nation that the only people who made $45,000 per month were top management positions that were created by both PNM and UNC governments.
Revealing what he believes is the real reason for Petrotrin’s misfortunes was the huge debt incurred when former chairman Malcolm Jones decided upon the failed World Gas To Liquids Plant. He said Jones also continued to plunge the company’s finances further with high cost overruns and long delays in plant constructions and plant turnaround.
While there is more, Roget said because of the union’s involvement in bidding for the refinery through its Patriotic Energies and Technologies Co Ltd, they were bound by a non-disclosure agreement.