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Petrotrin chairman: Union, company must work together

Friday, January 12, 2018
Petrotrin’s chairman Wilfred Espinet

Chairman of State-owned Petrotrin Wilfred Espinet says the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union must understand that the union and the company need to work together to ensure that the cash-strapped company becomes viable.

And he is also categorically denying suggestions that the company is engaged in any discussions to privatise the company.

On Wednesday, the OWTU staged a protest at Petrotrin’s Trinmar operations during which OWTU president general Ancel Roget warned workers of job cuts to come at the state entity.

Roget said the union would resist any such attempt and put workers on the alert for a “year of protest.” He also warned against privatisation of the company.

The protest followed the Prime Minister’s address to the nation in which he said 2018 was the year for restructuring of the company.

Roget said while the union had no issue with restructuring of the state company they want to be part of the process.

But Espinet said he hoped there was “some misrepresentation,” since the union has been involved and had two representatives on the Lashley Committee which submitted the report to the Prime Minister on the restructuring of the company.

Espinet told the T&T Guardian “the first agreement was that the Government should not be part of Petrotrin’s operational activities, so I don’t understand and maybe I am not understanding it clearly and maybe there is some misrepresentation what is the reference to the Government.” This in reference to Roget’s warning to the Government to “back off from Petrotrin and allow the OWTU to participate in its restructuring.”

The OWTU he said has been invited as a stakeholder to meet with the company on planned restructuring. “We have spoken to the Government now we have sent out an invitation to the union, we have sent out an invitation to our bond holders, and so on and our employees will follow.”

The Board of Petrotrin is hoping that meetings with all stakeholders will be completed by next week.

Asked about job cuts at the company Espinet said, “I have no idea, I will not jump to that. When you talk of cost it is not made up of jobs alone.”

He noted that “the union themselves talk of over-staffing in a number of areas. If they are saying there is overstaffing what we need to do is to look at every single aspect of our cost.”

Petrotrin has over 5,000 employees with a wage bill of over one billion dollars. Espinet said, “The company’s cost of operation is too high all we want to know is we are going to be seeking the unions participation in finding a way to make it viable for sure.”

In order for Petrotrin to be sustainable he said the company must become “viable and to be viable we have to be competitive.”


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