Former Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) leader Errol McLeod says the impending refinery shut down spells “disaster” for the country and his former trade union.
He is calling on the Government and its advisers to rethink the shut down especially in light of the recent ninth crude oil discovery in Guyana by Exxon Mobil.
“How would it serve the interest of the country to shut down the refinery at this stage?” McLeod asked in a telephone interview yesterday.
McLeod said that based on the Guyana oil find, by 2020/2021 the country will be producing high-quality crude oil.
“What is needed now is to modernize the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery so it has the capability to refine crude produced in Guyana. Now though, instead of moving forward or even staying stagnant, we are moving backward,” he said.
McLeod served as OWTU president general for 21 years before retiring in 2008 when current president general Ancel Roget took over the office. McLeod also served as Minister of Labour under the former
People’s Partnership government. Serving in both offices gave McLeod a unique view of the relationship between the union and the State.
“I will not compliment nor take away from what the current president general has done,” McLeod said.
“I would have done things differently.”
McLeod said both the politicians and the trade union seemed to have no vision where Petrotrin and the refinery is concerned.
“I would not have used the same tactics that he (Roget) is using,” McLeod said.
When asked for specifics, McLeod said that Roget allowed the trade unionists to speak out on an OWTU platform in a manner which “disrespected the institution” of the union.
“I saw on television that a farmer of goats spoke out against the Government in the most obscene, backward manner,” McLeod said. He was referring to the president of the Sheep and Goat Farmers Association, Shiraz Khan who was more vocal in his condemnation of the Government at Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) press conference last week.
“The OWTU should never be allowed to become so degenerate,” McLeod said.
Last Tuesday, the OWTU met with Petrotrin executives to discuss plans for the State company. The union was presented with three options but the company signaled that its intention was to shut down the refinery and send home some 1,700 workers. Since then the union has contended that it is the State’s intention to send home twice that amount from Petrotrin. This is the largest group of workers to be dismissed from any company.
Silence from Baptiste-Primus
The Sunday Guardian attempted to contact Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus on this issue but she did not respond to calls or texts. (RS)
Source: Guardian http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2018-09-02/mc-leod-it-spells-disaster