Time to query Roget's motives
On Monday, gas stations in South and Central Trinidad ran out of fuel as commuters reacted with panic buying to the news that workers at Petrotrin had gone on strike. Petrotrin's management assured the public that there were sufficient supplies of gas, while Oilfields Workers' Trade Union president Ancel Roget said this wasn't the case.
It turned out that management was speaking the truth, while Mr Roget was being disingenuous. And was anything achieved except inconvenience and aggravation to the ordinary citizens of the country?
Mr Roget may be satisfied his action gained the union some headlines needed to advance its self-seeking propaganda. But there was certainly no gain on the putative reasons for the strike action which, according to Mr Roget, had to do with unfilled vacancies, union demands for variable pay, and concern about the award of a bunkering contract.
The union's action didn't shut down the country or the company. But that won't stop the OWTU from trying again. The failure of the OWTU to get the company to bow to its demands has led to Mr Roget once again telling motorists to "fill up". Is this well-meaning advice? Or is Mr Roget merely intent on causing more disruption to ordinary citizens and, doing so, moreover, in the very week when school has started and parents have to ensure their children get transport?
Whatever happens next, motorists would be well advised to ignore Mr Roget, who is apparently seeking to further his own interests—which may not necessarily be the same as his union's—by these shenanigans. But the OWTU president badly miscalculates if he thinks the general public will blame Petrotrin rather than the OWTU and its workers. Indeed, the thinness of the ostensible cause of the strike may have confounded Petrotrin workers as much as it did the rest of the country. For the union is incredibly presuming to exercise a veto against the State enterprise's business plan—in this case, the demand for a share of "profit", when the company has made no profit, and its right to license operation of a bunkering service.
What are OWTU workers to make of this, mere months after they received a nine per cent wage increase? The people of the country now know, if they didn't before, these workers get the highest wages in the country, with most of them performing the same tasks as employees in other sectors. So the OWTU members might to do well to query their leader's motives, especially given his previously stated intent to oppose the present political administration.
The question for union members, therefore, is a simple one: is their leader seeking their best interests through this action?