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Oil workers union against privatising Petrotrin

Published:Monday | January 16, 2017 | 4:44 PMCMC

The Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) is urging the Trinidad T Tobago government not to privatise Petrotrin, but to stick with the option of overhauling the cash-strapped and state-owned oil company.

Last week, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said in a national broadcast it was necessary to carry out a restructuring of Petrotrin, after it signed an agreement for a five per cent salary increase for its workers and in the process avoided a costly 90-day strike.

Petrotrin said the agreement with the OWTU, covering the period 2011-2014, would cost an estimated TT$80 million annually.

However, there have been many calls for the company, whose work force is estimated at 5,000 to consider measures, including privatisation, to reduce expenditure.

But OWTU President General Ancel Roget said the union would not accept any retrenchment of workers or privatisation.

“To suggest the issue of privatisation or any other option without first examining in thorough detail and discussing with the union about its plans for Petrotrin’s turnaround … to suggest that you want to put in other options before thoroughly examining that, we think that it is premature,” Roget said.

“We are clear on what is required and nobody will be allowed to take away PETROTRIN from the hands of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. When you put it in private hands, it goes to the pockets and the bank accounts of the private interest,” he said.