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Displaced CNC workers hoping to find jobs abroad

Friday, January 26, 2018

Distressed over the shut down of Caribbean Nitrogen Company on Wednesday, several employees said yesterday they are hoping to find employment abroad if they fail to secure a place on the local job market.

They were speaking a day after CNC announced the company’s plan to shut down its ammonia plant because of the non-supply of natural gas from National Gas Corporation (NGC).

CNC is a business unit of Industrial Plant Services Limited (IPSL), a privately owned organisation that provides plant management services to clients in the petrochemical sector both locally and globally.

When the T&T Guardian visited yesterday, employees dressed in coveralls were seen walking around on the compound. Security guards kept strict surveillance and one employee said they were warned by company officials not to give information to the media.

A contractor, who works inside the plant, said he was worried about the future.

“I used to work at Damus and I got laid off. I had to wait for a year before I got back a job and now we hearing this company is closing down. I don’t know how we going to ride this one out,” an employee said. He explained that hundreds of people employed indirectly with CNC will also be affected, along with 400 workers employed at the ammonia plant.

Another worker, who provides supplies to the company, said there was a feeling of dread among the staff who are non-unionised.

“People are wondering how they will manage. Because we supply supplies for upstream and downstream products this will affect us in the medium and short term,” the source said.

He added that the energy industry was facing an uncertain future.

“Last year, the M1 plant shut down and now the CNC plant shut down. We are hoping that the CNC and IPSL could reach some agreement with NGC to start back their production and have the plants running plants as normal,” he added.

Another worker said, “Things are difficult now and many people with degrees have to work as security guards now so many of us are now looking for opportunities abroad in the Unites States and Canada. Some of us are doing it sooner rather than later. I think people should have a backup plan if they lose their jobs,” he added.

Meanwhile, president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union’s Ancel Roget said CNC workers were not unionised and he did not know what their contracts entailed. Describing the situation as sad, Roget said the OWTU had warned that plants in Point Lisas would be shut down because of mismanagement within the energy sector.

“We put that shut down squarely in the hands of the Minister of Energy and he has to be held accountable for the number of people who are being sent home,” Roget added.

Also, UNC chairman David Lee questioned whether other companies in Point Lisas will face closure.

He said, “Reports from the management of CNC suggest that for over one year the company has been making numerous concessions as they try to achieve a permanent supply of gas. Therefore for over one year the NGC Board and the Ministry of Energy would have been aware of the dire consequences and loss of jobs that would result if nothing was done. Yet they chose to take no positive action which has led to this point of disaster for the company and its workers.”


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