OWTU urged against carrying out strike


While the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union plans on leading a strike at State-owned Petrotrin, one former Energy Minister is appealing to the workers and the Union to reconsider the action as he says a strike is not in the best interest of T&T or the company

Speaking during an interview on Power 102.1 FM Tuesday morning, Ramnarine maintained that the Company is in a very fragile financial position and a strike would only exacerbate the situation.

“The country is in the midst of a very tough economic time. It cannot afford to have one of its major State enterprises go down as a result of a strike.”

The former minister said Petrotrin’s revenue has gone from $29 billion in 2014 to $16 billion in 2016 which represents a 50 percent decline, which he explained is mainly as a result of the global fall in oil prices.

He also disclosed that the Company would have to borrow money if it were to accede to the demands of the OWTU on behalf of the workers, which he said would make very little business sense.

He added that the Company would also have to obtain a guarantee from the Finance Minister if it were to seek a loan to pay workers – something Ramnarine stated that would not be pleasing to the Energy Minister since it would add to the debt stock of Trinidad and Tobago.

And, he detailed how a strike would be difficult for the workers as well.

“If an employee participates in the strike action, as you know they go without a salary, and nobody really wants to go without a salary at this time at the beginning of the year. You have school opening next week, you are in guava season mode right now.

So it’s a difficult thing for a worker to contemplate joining a strike and going without a salary for what could possibly be three months. A strike could go as long as 90 days. If it goes beyond 90 days, it is referred to the Industrial Court. The Industrial Court is there to adjudicate on disputes between employers and the representative Union.”

Ramnarine noted that while strike action by the workers would have some impact on the country, there are several contingency measures that would help ensure that fuel is delivered to consumers.