Trinidad: OWTU rejects Rowley’s refinery purchase offer

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Trinidad: OWTU rejects Rowley’s refinery purchase offer
Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union president general Ancel Roget.Rishi Ragoonath
Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union president general Ancel Roget.Rishi Ragoonath

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – Oil­fields Work­ers’ Trade Union (OW­TU) pres­i­dent gen­er­al An­cel Ro­get is re­ject­ing Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley’s of­fer of the sale of Petrotrin re­fin­ery to the union, as well as the at­trac­tive sev­er­ance and ear­ly re­tire­ment pack­ages for work­ers over 50 who will be af­fect­ed by the im­pend­ing shut­down.

In an im­me­di­ate re­sponse to Row­ley’s ad­dress to the na­tion last evening, Ro­get said the union felt “vin­di­cat­ed” by the PM’s words.

“We are vin­di­cat­ed be­cause we knew that the plan was to sell the re­fin­ery,” Ro­get said.

How­ev­er, he said the union nev­er want­ed to own the re­fin­ery.

“We are pa­tri­ots and we know that the re­fin­ery be­longs to the peo­ple. It does not be­long in the hands of a pri­vate own­er, even if that own­er is the union,” he said.

The union, with sup­port from al­most 20 oth­er trade unions, is ex­pect­ed to de­liv­er a let­ter to Row­ley to­day of­fer­ing an al­ter­na­tive plan of ac­tion for the re­fin­ery.

In a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view last evening as well, Ro­get al­so ques­tioned some of the fig­ures quot­ed by Row­ley and promised that he will be chal­leng­ing it in the up­com­ing days. He al­so said claims by Row­ley that the union re­fused to meet with Gov­ern­ment were un­true and in­sist­ed that there should be pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions on Petrotrin’s fu­ture, specif­i­cal­ly on the de­ci­sion to shut down the re­fin­ery.

Al­so com­ment­ing last evening was for­mer en­er­gy min­is­ter Kevin Ram­nar­ine, who said he strong­ly be­lieves noth­ing is wrong with con­sid­er­ing a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship ap­proach to the re­fin­ery go­ing for­ward.

Say­ing the re­fin­ery re­mains a strate­gic as­set, Ram­nar­ine said a num­ber of the plants that were built as part of the Gaso­line Op­ti­miza­tion Pro­gramme are still rel­a­tive­ly new and were com­plet­ed in 2013. He added that the Cat Crack­er was up­grad­ed and that work was com­plet­ed in 2014 and cer­ti­fied by Lloyd’s, so Gov­ern­ment could find a com­pa­ny will­ing to take over the re­fin­ery.

“I think it is pos­si­ble to find rep­utable com­pa­nies with the req­ui­site cap­i­tal and ex­per­tise who will be will­ing to part­ner with the Gov­ern­ment to make the re­fin­ery vi­able,” Ram­nar­ine said.

“Al­so, as I have in­di­cat­ed there will be an im­pact on the con­trac­tors and the en­er­gy ser­vice com­pa­nies that de­pend­ed on the ex­pen­di­ture of the re­fin­ery to sup­port their busi­ness.”

Ram­nar­ine spec­u­lat­ed that more will be heard on the is­sue in the com­ing weeks and in the up­com­ing bud­get de­bate.

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