MOTORISTS began queuing at some service stations yesterday evening over fears of a fuel shortage, as Petrotrin employees downed tools for a second day to protest management's failure to pay outstanding money along with other issues.
Motorists moved to fill their tanks after news reports that the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) was threatening industrial action.
However, Petrotrin issued a stern warning to its workers late yesterday that should they not report for work today, they could expect no pay.
Thousands of workers, attached to Petrotrin's Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and operations in Penal/Barrackpore, Forest Reserve, Point Fortin and Santa Flora, gathered outside the company's administration building in Pointe-a-Pierre. The workers were addressed by OWTU president general Ancel Roget and other union representatives. Roget said the company's management was not moving to fulfill the terms of the collective agreement signed a year ago. He said management had promised to fill vacancies, make temporary employees permanent and settle outstanding payments for the period 2009 to 2010. Roget said workers were disappointed that top management was being selected on the basis of political party and not qualification.
"We have interviews being conducted to select persons for the best person for the job. The best person for those high-end positions reside within the company operations. They are politicising this and the persons who come into the position don't know how to perform their duties. The wrong person is put in position and at the end of day we continue to suffer," he said.
Roget said several senior persons at the company were hired because of their loyalty to the People's Partnership Government.
"They are sucking the blood of a dying entity and killing it faster," he said. Roget said Petrotrin was grossly understaffed and there were a number of vacancies to be filled.
Petrotrin stated that work stoppages occurred for a second day across Petrotrin's operations, as some employees attended a meeting with the union in Pointe-a-Pierre.
Many employees who were willing to report to work were unable to access the facilities, a media release stated.
"A number of issues were again raised at this meeting, some of which have been the subject of ongoing discussions at weekly meetings between the union and the company. Petrotrin reiterates that this is a critical year as the company seeks to improve its oil production and refinery throughput and such industrial action will negatively impact these objectives. As such, we encourage all parties to use the appropriate channels to air and treat with issues," the company stated.
Petrotrin later issued a second news release stating: "(Today) Petrotrin security will provide safe access at all facilities. Employees are expected to report to their normal work place and are reminded of the company's policy of 'no work, no pay'. Employees are further advised to contact Petrotrin's security if there are any difficulties reaching their normal work place".