Monday, February 19, 2018

Put T&T first


The Angelin platform came to La Brea, and it went—to a more welcoming setting in Mexico.
For decades, at least since 1937, La Brea and adjacent southern Trinidad locations remained the centres of protest against energy companies, mainly foreign, denounced as being less than generous to local workers and their resident communities.

With the world having moved on since the Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler days of 1937, La Brea now bids to be a competitive setting for fabrication of advanced gas-producing and processing offshore platforms by world-scale companies such as bpTT. Such companies cannot afford the sentimentality of preferring La Brea in Trinidad and Tobago, ahead of places where their fabrication contracts may more efficiently and promptly be executed.

For bpTT president Norman Christie, a T&T resident for 12 years, it was an admittedly low moment when his company felt constrained to pack up its Angelin fabrication project and ship it from TOFCO in La Brea to somewhere else promising more “competitive” completion.

First, Finance Minister Colm Imbert and now, Energy Minister Franklin Khan all but fell on their knees pleading that the next bpTT platform, Cassia C, be constructed in La Brea. Minister Khan will even go to Mexico where the erstwhile T&T platform ended up, to see what they are doing right, with a view to replicating it in La Brea.

This, should Mr Khan's hopes be realised, would mean a boost for local jobs, for utilisation and development of relevant local management skills, capacities and experience.
Saying it out loud, the minister declared: “We want the fabrication to come back to Trinidad.”
It's hard to see what the T&T location can offer, unless it means commitments against familiar and all-too-frequent work stoppages, resulting under-productivity, and protests paraded under the Oilfields Workers Trade Union's (OWTU) flag.

In plain words, Cassia C fabrication will come to and stay in La Brea only if the people and the union pledge and actually behave in a manner conducive to on-time production. But the OWTU's language, and action based on it, all but celebrating the loss of Angelin, remains infamously unforgettable: “Take your platform and go.”
 
That, indeed, is the attitude which will have to go.
That being said, the latest rantings from the OWTU do not generate confidence that there has been a change of thinking among its hierarchy, in putting country first before any blow-hard militancy that incites workers against employers.
The current whistle-stop tour by the Joint Trade Union Movement—whose chief spokesman is OWTU president general Ancel Roget—as part of a “campaign for national resistance against austerity”, sends all the wrong signals in these trying economic times.

Rather than a clarion call about putting one's nose to the grindstone and giving that extra effort, especially for those businesses that are literally hanging on by their fingernails, the threat to shut down the country will do no one any good, particularly those same workers that Mr Roget and his comrades claim to care about so much.

Ranting and raving never earned a cent for anyone, moreso a nation which needs all the friends it can get, especially those with deep pockets like bpTT.
It is more than time to put aside narrow self-interest and do it for T&T.