INDUSTRIAL action at State-owned Petrotrin is not entirely about outstanding payments, but because of heavy political interference in the refinery's hiring and promotion practices, Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget said yesterday.
Workers entered their sixth day of protest action, under the watch of heavily armed police officers, outside the company's gates in Pointe-a-Pierre.
Roget said he was disappointed that the union and management were unable to find a resolution following a seven-and-a-half hour-long meeting last Friday.
"Political interference has caused a shutdown at Petrotrin. Everything is not okay here. We didn't just get up last week and come out here. It is after a whole year of talks and giving them an opportunity to correct the situation," he said.
Roget said the first issue raised by the OWTU at the meeting was that of political interference in the hiring and promotion practices. The union claimed that top management positions were being filled by persons affiliated with the People's Partnership Government.
"The company can't go forward on the basis of family and friend and who is loyal to party. A person has to be hired on the basis of competence and qualifications. There are persons at the company, acting in positions for a long time. Fill these positions," he said.
Roget said workers were prepared to remain on the picket line until the matter is addressed.
He said workers were being called on to perform extra duties, risking their lives because of the shortage in manpower.
"If we do not move to address this 800-plus vacancies at lightning speed, those called upon to work extra hours would be putting their life and limb and the company at risk. We are dealing with a person's safety," he said.
Roget said the union was not satisfied with management's response to the matter.
"The company is saying they have no control over the process, because they have to take into consideration other stakeholders. We do not accept that," he said.
Roget said the issue of variable payment was also raised at the meeting.
"This is a principle matter. You owe the workers money, pay the workers. You telling us about other debts, but what about the workers money? You saying you losing $100 million a day with this action and the variable pay is $145 million. Pay the workers and energise them to work for you to make more money," he said.