President of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget said yesterday Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine was not telling the truth when he told the Senate on Tuesday the Government had “no plan(s) to privatise Petrotrin”.
Roget and members of the OWTU had gathered in solidarity with other unions and groups, including the Communication Worker’s Union (CWU) and Fixing TnT, to picket outside Parliament, at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, to demonstrate displeasure with various decisions and actions being made by the Government.
During the picket, several ministers were booed as they made their way into the building.
These included acting Prime Minister Winston Dookeran, Sport Minister Anil Roberts, Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh and Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar.
While most of the ministers seemed to wave off the boos of the union members, Roberts spoke with secretary general of the CWU John Julien before entering the building.
Julien said he had provided Roberts with a document summarising various issues, which the minister had assured the secretary general he would review.
Mariano Browne and Colm Imbert, of the People’s National Movement (PNM), were cheered howev-
er. So, too, was a group in green Independent Liberal Party (ILP) jerseys.
Roget said, “We want to say this afternoon that the Minister of Ener-
gy used the Parliament some days ago to misrepresent the facts as it relates to the privatisation of Petrotrin.
“You will recall us, (OWTU) on a number of other occasions, raising the issue about the threat of the selling out of various fields of Petro-
trin acreage. So when we hear the minister saying to the national community that Petrotrin is not privatising or selling out its assets, to us, he is just using terminology to get away from the fact of the matter.
“And the fact of the matter is that various acreages, including Moruga West, Inniss, Trinity, Catshill, Balata East and Oropuche, all of those fields have been farmed out and leased out to private interests.
“And what this means is that the daily workers who were responsible for the operations of those wells in those fields, those workers have been transferred out of their original workplace and contract employees are now doing the work that the daily workers were doing. So when the minister says differently, the mi-
nister is telling blatant untruths.”
The union president said he was in possession of information which allegedly revealed several international companies were the lease operators who were occupying “acrea-
ges of Petrotrin”, something Roget said the public needed to be aware of as he alleged this meant the Government was “selling out the assets of the people to private interests”.
“And there is an aggression with which they are doing it, too. It seems that between now and 2015, the outgoing Government is prepared to sell out the assets of the people. They are prepared to transfer wealth from the public ownership into private interests.
“So we are alerting the public to those practices and, certainly, we are going to be planning aggressively, with this in mind, for our massive demonstration on May 23,” Roget said.
“These are our statements. Let the minister now tell the country of all these international companies, which acreages they now occupy, which acreages they didn’t have before, and if it does indeed have the effect of having workers being transferred out of these fields and contractor employees now being brought in.”