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Rowley: Roget refused to meet with me

Published: 
Monday, August 13, 2018

Don’t threaten me. That’s the warning Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is sending to OWTU President General Ancel Roget. Dr Rowley said he had no quarrel with the union leader and had invited him for talks but he refused.

“He refused to speak to me as Prime Minister. He preferred to stand on the pavement and shout and I understand he is coming to kneel down outside the Prime Minister’s residence to march,” he said.

“I want to say to the leader of the OWTU I have no quarrel with you but get your facts straight. The house in St Ann’s is not my house.”

Rowley, in his address to supporters at the PNM’s Family and Sports Day at the Edinburgh 500 Recreational Grounds yesterday, commented on Roget’s call for workers to gather outside the Prime Minister’s official residence at St Ann’s on August 26 to kneel and pray for Petrotrin. The union leader claimed the State-owned entity is on the brink of disaster.

The PNM leader, who declared that his homes are at Goodwood Park and Mason Hall, said: “The house at St Ann’s is a Government office and those of us who work 24 hours a day work at the back of of that house.

“And if I too was getting $100,000 for doing nothing I would walk around the country and kneel down too. But let me say to the workers of Petrotrin, as I said to the leader of the OWTU, don’t threaten me. I will not be threatened because I am not in fear of losing any election.”

Dr Rowley said as Prime Minister his door is open for talks with anyone in the country who represents workers and citizens. However, he reiterated that Petrotrin must be restructured and he assured workers of the energy company that they will not be thrown out on the pavement. In fact, they will be offered equity in the new company.

“At this point in the country’s history what has to be done has to be done and what has to be done is that Petrotrin has to be restructured,” he said.

“We are not engaging in any old talk about who earns what at Petrotrin. We are engaging in looking after the interest of all the people of Trinidad and Tobago and so far as Petrotrin is concerned we are engaging in ensuring that whatever the country has to offer in the hydrocarbon sector under Petrotrin, the interest of the workers and the families of Petrotrin is taken care of. That is not taken care of by high paid people walking around the country trying to create mayhem.”

Dr Rowley recalled that when an offer was made to TCL workers to take certain advantages, they were encouraged not to do so.

“I want to tell Petrotrin workers when the steel industry collapsed around the world and our steel industry owners in Trinidad and Tobago wanted to talk to the workers there were those who were telling them don’t talk to the owners. The owners then closed the doors and left a liquidator in charge,” he said.

He added the PNM is a political party and did not hide the fact that it sees its fortunes in the political arena. He urged Petrotrin workers to distinguish between a trade union and a political party.

Responding to comments by Public Services Association (PSA) leader Watson Duke, who is demanding that each public servant be paid $15,000 a month as part of settlement outstanding monies owed to them, Dr Rowley said public servants are not being neglected.

He said: “Let me not talk to Watson Duke at all. Let me talk to the thousands of public servants who look for their monthly pay roll from the Government every month. This is a Government facing the difficulty we have faced . . . There has never been a month you have not been paid.”

He gave public servants the choice of either following Duke or the Government.

On the progress of the National Investment Fund (NIF), Dr Rowley said it was oversubscribed by 50 per cent. Government intended to get offers of $4 billion but the figure stood at $6 billion.

He also stated that the F his detractors gave him for his performance is high on the scale of the alphabet.

“Down on the alphabet you have a W an O a T and they tell me that means waste of time. You have a U meaning undermine. “So let me settle with my F because if I had gotten an A they have those who say depending on how you approach the matter A can be a well-known . . . let me stop right there,” he said.

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