TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: Petrotrin braces for strike - EntornoInteligente / News day / The company’s top management led by its president Fitzroy Harewood, issued a memo Friday night to senior company managers in all departments, in which he alerted them to brace for strike action and be prepared to solicit the resources of the company’s highly- trained technical staff.

In past shut-downs of the refinery due to labour unrest, Petrotrin was been able to run its operations with a skeleton staff, but not for any considerable long period.

And whilst the refinery was able to function, hardest hit was in the distribution of fuels to gas stations throughout the country. In two instances in the past, the government of the day was forced to call out members of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment to drive gas trucks to gas stations.

Harewood’s memo to his top-level technical managers, stated in part that they should brace for strike action, and the notice should be circulated throughout the company and in all of its operation departments. It states in part, “Everyone should be apprised of the pending action and that leadership management teams should note that persons who are critically needed for the operations, should be informed. Please have this memorandum finds the widest circulation with the attached message.” A senior Petrotrin manager who spoke anonymously to Sunday Newsday yesterday, said the memo meant that whilst the company’s bulk of its 5,000 employees may strike, there is sufficient technical staff to man the refinery.

Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union president Ancel Roget has indicated that if strike action is called by the serving of formal notice to Petrotrin on Wednesday morning, it could last about 90 days if the company refuses to budge on its zero-zero- zero offer for the 2011-14 outstanding collective agreement period.

In a letter to all employees in an effort to give the company’s perspective of the situation, Harewood cited fall in oil prices to low revenue earnings in the midst of a $1.2 billion debt payments that has to be made in 2017. Petrotrin, he added, did not have the money to make retroactive increase salary payments for the negotiating 2011-14 period.

The release stated, “Any increases in manpower cost will result in increased losses and further exacerbate our cash flow situation, thus exposing Petrotrin to the risk of funds not being available to meet operational requirements.” Roget could not be contacted by telephone yesterday for a comment, however, the union’s education officer, Ozzy Warrick, said that the public would be kept informed if the company or any member of the government, give notice for further talks to be held in order to stave off strike action.

TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: Petrotrin braces for strike

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