Tuesday, February 20, 2018

‘Petrotrin execs still in their cushy jobs’ despite fine

IT is “really strange” that despite the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) finding Petrotrin culpable in the recent series of oil spills affecting this country’s south-western peninsula, the company’s management remain in their “cushy jobs”.

President-general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget made this statement yesterday.

Over the past month, the country’s south-western peninsula has been affected by 11 oil spills.

Last week, the EMA fined Petrotrin $20 million for which the State-owned energy company is being held responsible. It is the largest fine from the EMA so far.

Speaking to reporters yesterday after deli­vering a letter to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar requesting an urgent meeting, Roget questioned why action has not been taken against Petrotrin’s management.

“It is really strange that the Environmental Management Authority would have found Petrotrin’s management culpable, guilty of a number of non-compliances and so on and viola­tions, and subsequently fine Petrotrin, and Petrotrin’s management even accepted that they were wrong, but at the same time while all of that occurred... Petrotrin, that is, paying a fine, while all of that had happened Petrotrin’s management still remained in their cushy jobs and they remain in their cushy jobs...,” Roget said.

“And if we did not tackle what is the real cause, the root causes of this major catastrophe, we will really not be on the road to recovery and there is where we want to get. We want to get on recovery road to turn the major State enterprise around,” he said.

He said the current management team cannot be the one to lead Petrotrin out of the current crisis.

“The management of Petrotrin, having taken Petrotrin to where it is at now, we cannot rely on them to take Petrotrin out of the problems that Petrotrin is now experiencing,” Roget said.

Roget said he would not be surprised if this current situation would eventually be put forward as a reason to privatise the State-owned oil company.

“We will not be surprised after this failure and the bungling of this management that they will come to the national community and tell the national community that Petrotrin, for it to survive, it ought to be privatised,” Roget said.

“This is where they are heading, to put it in private hands, and once that happens the people will lose even more again. So we come this morning in the interest of the stakeholders, we come in the national interest to treat with this major issue, and we feel that it should be given its deserving attention and we expect the Prime Minister to respond appropriately,” he said.

Roget claimed in an attempt to distract from the issue Petrotrin suspended several workers.

Last week, Petrotrin suspended eight employees, pending investigations into the oil spills, and it is understood another four have been sent home since then.

Roget said the workers were being used like pawns.

“They are used as pawns. They are used as a deflection. They are used as scapegoats to cover the tracks of management to tell the national community that they have done something,” Roget said.

One of these attempts to distract is that OWTU has issued threats to Petrotrin and its management, Roget said.

“We are not about threats. The only threat that we would make and we would maintain is the threat that we made from 1937 to now. The threat is that we will stand in defence of the national interest and in the defence of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. That is the only threat,” he said.

Roget said if the police were to approach him or the OWTU on the issue of threats, he would release the evidence he has.

“Absolutely not. And if the police approach us, we certainly will bring forward all the evidence we have, which points to something else,” Roget said.

“I think that it is mischief and misbehaviour in public office and the wasting of police time to point to the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union as threatening Petrotrin and Petrotrin’s interests,” he said.

—Joel Julien