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Petrotrin retiree: Fight for your jobs

Published: 
Sunday, September 23, 2018
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Trinmar/Petrotrin retiree Stephen Tang gesticulates at his Marabella home as he speaks about plans to shut down Petrotrin.

Rhondor Dowlat

Workers at Petrotrin’s refinery who are to be sent home at the end of this month pending the shutdown are being urged to fight for their jobs.

The advice came from one of the refinery’s retirees, Stephen Tang, 70, of Marabella.

On hearing the news that the refinery he was employed at from the tender age of 14 was to be shut down, he said he was scared by the move.

Speaking to the Sunday Guardian, Tang said, “Fight for your jobs…fight for the job that you still have! I strongly believe that social economic problems will exist for generations to come should the retrenchment really come through.

“All citizens, as one nation, should come together and help save the refinery. We are suffering from retrenchment of ideas…What to do?

“Right now there is only one thing to do and it is to love your country and fight for your jobs.”

Tang said since in the early 1980s there were talks of retrenchment at the refinery from Texaco days.

He said that it was always a known fact, in the early days from 1979 to 1984, they wanted to cut workers to 800 and that had always been the plan over the years.

Starting off his career at the refinery from office boy to apprentice and moving up until his retirement in the early 2000s, Tang believes that there are many other ways to save Petrotrin.

He said a lot of things had been done haphazard and fast, but questionable. Tang said Petrotrin must be restructured, but sending workers home and shutting down the refinery was not the best strategy.

He suggested a National Investment Fund should have been implemented as one means to save the refinery and another via a budget cut of three to four billion dollars over the next five-year period.

Tang said the NIF might help raise $30 billion, the budget cut can save $20 billion, but saving the company was saving the country as Petrotrin belonged to the people of T&T.

Tang recalled that in “Texaco” days, the company was international, professional, and “it had standards”.

He said at the time there were only six managers and 500 employees, compared to now, there were over 50 managers and 5,000 employees.

Tang said too much politics stepped into the companies, "perhaps people were not conscious of it and did not understand what they did", but the company is politicised now.

He said the problem over the past 50 years was management—management knew management.

Tang said he was in fear that when a country depended on someone else to set up its economy and they run into problems outside, what will happen to it.

Another refinery retiree, from Central, who was now 83-years-old said he was saddened by the announcement.

He did not want to divulge his name. The man, who worked in the garage section, said he believed that the company should be privatised.

The man said he remembered when the foreigners were in charge, the refinery was “high up” to a certain standard.

He said they cared for the workers and made sure they were sent away for proper training.

The man said the expats made sure they were sent into the ocean to study the marine conditions, the oil and all the logistics.

He said in those days they just had the froth of a beer but they were booming. The man said the foreigners had the beer, the bottle, and the cap.

He said now, T&T had everything; the froth, beer, bottle, and the cap and were still losing.

The man said the company began to decline from the time the State took it over and it was a sad thing today. “I'm really sorry to see what’s happening," he said

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