Oil producer Trinmar's offshore rigs have been shut down for the past three days, leaving its parent, State-owned Petrotrin, to cope with more than $2 million in losses during that period.
This was the figure given by Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali who yesterday confirmed the lack of production at the offshore facility.
Hassanali pointed fingers at the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) and blamed it for the shutdown and subsequent losses.
He said contract workers hired to ferry Petrotrin employees to and from the offshore rig engaged in protest action over an unpaid wage increase on Sunday and that action carried over into yesterday and is expected to continue this morning.
"Petrotrin workers cannot go out and the contractors' boats have blocked the boats that Petrotrin owns that could have taken some of the workers back and forth," Hassanali said.
"The contractors, under the previous board and management were not eligible for OWTU negotiated salaries. They were paid at market rates. That changed after the last negotiations," he said.
Hassanali said the sign-off only happened in August and the contractors should not expect the accounting process to be able to reflect the new salary arrangements already. He called for patience from the contractors, but also said the contracted workers fell under the OWTU and questioned if this was union-sanctioned protest action.
But the OWTU yesterday refused to accept responsibility for the shutdown.
In a letter to Petrotrin, OWTU president general Ancel Roget said the workers' action at Trinmar "was neither inspired nor influenced by the union".
"But rather it came as a direct result of your management's failure," he wrote.
Roget blamed Petrotrin, saying the company was ultimately responsible for the contractors' non-payment to workers which triggered the strike action.
He also blamed Petrotrin for not having its own vessels up to code so that the company would not be "held to ransom" by protesting contract workers.
The two parties were expected to meet yesterday to resolve the issue as Roget said he was asked by Petrotrin to intervene.
"Unfortunately (yesterday) we waited unsuccessfully for one hour and 45 minutes for a meeting with the president," he said.
He said the company's lack of urgency to resolve the issue was "mind-boggling".
He said workers were on the marine base and were unable to get to the rigs.
"If they could swim out there they would, but they cannot get to their jobs," he said.