Insisting that the Petrotrin refinery can be saved, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has outlined a 24-month plan which she believes can save thousands of jobs at state-owned Petrotrin.
Speaking at the UNC’s Monday Night Forum in Claxton Bay on Monday, Persad-Bissessar said she plans to share her plans with the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union.
“I want to tell the union up front, the workers, that you have to make sacrifices to save your jobs. Don’t expect the rest of the country, who also seeing trouble because of this incompetent Rowley, to bail you out. Stand up, man up and accept some responsibility to save your own jobs,” she said.
Blaming the board of late Petrotrin chairman Malcolm Jones and a former PNM Cabinet for the company’s misfortune, Persad-Bissessar proposed a 24-month plan, which includes the sourcing of cheaper supplies of crude.
“Persons in Petrotrin were not looking for best prices on crude. What they were doing is that they had their preferred suppliers and were not price shopping. We must also source higher prices for refined products. Petrotrin needs to have direct marketing for our products in order to maximise profits. We should also negotiate with Samsung to get the ULSD plant working,” she said.
She added that her vision was to train, educate and prepare our citizens for high paying jobs in industry and for the digital economy.
As part of the immediate plan, she said all overtime should be curtailed for this 24-month period.
“The workers must understand this overtime cannot continue. We must reduce and renegotiate benefits for this 24-month period. We must also reduce or suspend vacation leave during this period, set proper assessment and performance targets for each employee and updated terms of employment whereby employees have to and must be accountable for poor performance,” she added.
She also told Petrotrin workers that poor performance will not be acceptable.
“Let’s be real, some of these guys get away with very poor performance and keep their jobs. So don’t expect me to try to help you keep your job and expect to continue with that behaviour,” Persad-Bissesasar said.
She also noted that there was severe price gouging by safety suppliers, service suppliers and goods suppliers for products and services in the refinery.
“It cost $300 to inspect a T vehicle in the government licensing office but up to $4,000 by some inspectors in Petrotrin. Secondly, it takes half a day sometimes before anyone can start working. Thirdly, massive overcharging for goods and services. These contractors, suppliers, safety firms must come to the table and the rotten ones purged from the company,” she said.
She also called for a new open market tendering that was transparent.
“The pre-qualification system is rigged to exclude competition and favour preferred suppliers. The union must accept that some of its own members are involved in this and must assist to root them out. You can’t have proper tendering if the pre-qualification is rigged. We have many other more detailed proposals but we are positive we can lower overheads and operation, maintenance cost, employee cost and turn a healthy profit,” she told supporters.
Persad-Bissessar also said she planned to share the UNC’s plan with the union on how the US$750 million debt can be financed before sharing it with the public.