EMPLOYEES of State-owned Petrotrin were moved out of the path of gas tankers by police officers yesterday as the workers continued protest action outside the company's gates at Pointe-a-Pierre.
The workers are protesting management not paying outstanding variable pay and not filling vacancies.
Yesterday they entered the fourth day of protest action and claimed their rights were violated by more than a dozen police officers who they claimed used excessive force against them.
"Workers were carrying out a peaceful protest when police arrived and forcefully moved us from this area to behind these barriers...The police did not ask us to move. They came forcefully with their batons and guns. They would have just stepped in front of us and then forcefully pushed us out of the way," branch president Roger Stewart said.
He said fuel tankers then entered the company's premises.
But acting Senior Superintendent of Police Cecil Santana who was on the scene, denied that the officers used excessive force.
He said the purpose of the police officers being present was to ensure there was a free passage for vehicles to gain access to Petrotrin's compound.
Santana yesterday said the officers will remain on the scene for "as long as necessary".
Last Friday a resolution was not reached between Petrotrin's management and the heads of the executive of the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) following a meeting which lasted over eight hours.
A release from the company said, "The OWTU insists that we pay an estimated $145 million in variable pay for the period 2009/2010, although Petrotrin suffered a loss."
It was said the company made an offer to pay an advance toward the 2011/2012 variable pay but this was rejected by the union.
"We wish to remind employees that work stoppage at this time negatively impacts the company's reputation as a reliable supplier and our viability. We again appeal for the understanding and support of all employees at this critical time as we work together to ensure the sustainability of Petrotrin," the statement said.
Stewart said the protest will continue today.