Khan: 4,700 workers in total to lose jobs at Petrotrin, T&T

By Trinidad Guardian

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Gail Alexan­der

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – The big pic­ture: a to­tal of 4,700 per­ma­nent and non-per­ma­nent Petrotrin work­ers will be af­fect­ed by the re­fin­ery’s clo­sure loom­ing ahead.

En­er­gy Min­is­ter Franklin yes­ter­day told Par­lia­ment that 3,500 per­ma­nent work­ers plus 1,200 non-per­ma­nent work­ers will be af­fect­ed by the Gov­ern­ment’s planned clo­sure of the re­fin­ery in two weeks.

Khan gave the over­all to­tal in re­sponse to ques­tions by UNC MP Rudy In­dars­ingh. Khan’s fig­ures are the lat­est to­tal tal­ly of work­ers to be af­fect­ed by the plan.

In an Au­gust 28 state­ment on the clo­sure, Petrotrin stat­ed, “Ap­prox­i­mate­ly 2,600 per­ma­nent jobs will be af­fect­ed—the re­designed Ex­plo­ration and Pro­duc­tion busi­ness will have ap­prox­i­mate­ly 800 work­ers and all 1,700 jobs in re­fin­ing will be ter­mi­nat­ed.”

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley, in a Sep­tem­ber 2 ad­dress to the na­tion, had said, “In Re­fin­ing and Mar­ket­ing, ap­prox­i­mate­ly 1,700 per­ma­nent work­ers will be af­fect­ed. In Ex­plo­ration and Pro­duc­tion, em­ploy­ment lev­els are to be re­duced from 1,700 work­ers to ap­prox­i­mate­ly 800 per­sons.”

Com­pa­ny chair­man Wil­fred Es­pinet re­cent­ly re­port­ed­ly in­di­cat­ed a to­tal of 3,500 per­ma­nent work­ers would be af­fect­ed.

Yes­ter­day, how­ev­er, Khan ap­peared to give a more com­plete pic­ture af­ter In­dars­ingh sought an up­date on the cal­cu­la­tion of the ter­mi­na­tion ben­e­fit pack­ages for all cat­e­gories of Petrotrin re­fin­ery work­ers and the num­ber of em­ploy­ees to be af­fect­ed.

Khan replied, “As to the num­ber of em­ploy­ees that will be im­pact­ed: the to­tal num­ber of per­ma­nent em­ploy­ees im­pact­ed from the Petrotrin re­struc­tur­ing and re­mod­el­ling is ap­prox­i­mate­ly 3,500 per­ma­nent work­ers and ap­prox­i­mate­ly 1,200 non-per­ma­nent work­ers.”

On ben­e­fits, Khan said, “The ter­mi­na­tion pack­ages and ben­e­fits there­in are cur­rent­ly be­ing ne­go­ti­at­ed by the com­pa­ny and OW­TU. … I wouldn’t want to pre­judge what pack­age they’ll come up with. They have a base and col­lec­tive agree­ment and they’ll prob­a­bly be work­ing on en­hance­ment.”

In­dars­ingh asked if sev­er­ance pay­ments would be made for 5,322 work­ers, which he said was the num­ber of work­ers in the com­pa­ny giv­en in the Lash­ley re­port on Petrotrin. Khan said that re­port didn’t speak to such ac­tiv­i­ties or sev­er­ance pay­ments.

UNC’s Roodal Mooni­lal asked about ear­li­er state­ments by the PM and Gov­ern­ment mem­bers which he said put the pack­age around $ 2-3 bil­lion.

Khan said that he’d said the pack­age would be up­ward of $1 bil­lion.

“If you do ba­sic cal­cu­la­tion on the col­lec­tive agree­ment, this is ob­vi­ous­ly more than $1 bil­lion. But the state, board and Gov­ern­ment is will­ing to sit with the union and go through all the num­bers and pos­si­bly of­fer some en­hance­ment to that pack­age.”

PM Row­ley twice at­tempt­ed to com­ment on the mat­ter but was halt­ed by the pro­ce­dur­al rules.

Khan was al­so quizzed on how re­cent changes to bid rounds is­sues might af­fect Petrotrin’s pro­ject­ed Ex­plo­ration and Pro­duc­tion thrust, which is ex­pect­ed to be the re­struc­tured com­pa­ny’s mon­ey spin­ner.

Af­ter Khan gave the lat­est fig­ure con­cern­ing work­ers to be af­fect­ed, In­dars­ingh told re­porters, “A ques­tion of trust and cred­i­bil­i­ty has emerged here. When the Prime Min­is­ter ad­dressed the na­tion, the fig­ure giv­en was 1,700 work­ers, the En­er­gy Min­is­ter gave the same ini­tial­ly. Then Petrotrin’s chair­man said it was 3,500.

“They need to get their act to­geth­er. They’re sup­posed to im­ple­ment their plan by Oc­to­ber 1 but I can’t see all the is­sues be­ing ham­mered out. The fig­ures seem to be con­flict­ing.”

In­dars­ingh said Khan’s be­come known as a bear­er of “fake news” on the is­sue, since Khan had de­nied it when word of the re­fin­ery ‘s clo­sure first cir­cu­lat­ed. He called for more in­for­ma­tion on how many peo­ple would be re­hired and the cri­te­ria for this. Petrotrin’s board speaks at the Hy­att this morn­ing to clar­i­fy is­sues.

So­cial plan for re­trenched work­ers – Crichlow-Cock­burn

With the im­pend­ing clo­sure of the Petrotirn re­fin­ery, Gov­ern­ment is mov­ing to ac­ti­vate a na­tion­al so­cial mit­i­ga­tion plan which tar­gets re­trenched/ter­mi­nat­ed work­ers.

So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Cher­rie Ann Crichlow-Cock­burn de­tailed the plan yes­ter­day, say­ing it was ap­proved by Cab­i­net in Au­gust 2017 and is meant to cush­ion po­ten­tial psy­cho­log­i­cal, so­cial and eco­nom­ic ef­fects as­so­ci­at­ed with the eco­nom­ic down­turn.

“It tar­gets cit­i­zens in vul­ner­a­ble so­cial-eco­nom­ic po­si­tions such as re­trenched/ter­mi­nat­ed work­ers, un­em­ployed/ low-in­come cit­i­zens at-risk youth, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, poor/sin­gle house­hold fam­i­lies/in­di­vid­u­als and oth­er mar­gin­alised groups,” she said.

Its main pur­pose is to equip peo­ple with re­sources and tools to cope with short-term con­se­quences.

Phase One in­volves short-term mea­sures:

• Tem­po­rary “pro­gram­ming” mea­sures for re­trenched work­ers – food sup­port, pub­lic as­sis­tance, gen­er­al as­sis­tance grant.

• Ex­ten­sion of the elec­tric­i­ty sub­sidy to in­clude vul­ner­a­ble re­trenched work­ers.

• Pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tral Bank cam­paign on fi­nan­cial se­cu­ri­ty.

• Health/Well­ness cen­tres.

• Fi­nan­cial/tech­ni­cal sup­port to NGOs pro­vid­ing food and oth­er ser­vices to the vul­ner­a­ble – soup kitchens, tem­po­rary shel­ters.

• Walk-in one-stop fa­cil­i­ty for peo­ple seek­ing gov­ern­ment ser­vices.

• Toll-free call cen­tre to dis­sem­i­nate in­for­ma­tion to those seek­ing gov­ern­ment help.

• Stan­dard­ised means test to iden­ti­fy the vul­ner­a­ble sec­tor.

• Phase 2-3 ex­pands pro­vi­sion of train­ing/en­tre­pre­neur­ial op­por­tu­ni­ties.

This article was posted in its entirety as received by This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of, its sponsors or advertisers.

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