President general of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget did not know that the Government planned to shut down Petrotrin. After successive meetings with the Petrotrin executive and then with the Prime Minister, the union claimed it was kept in the dark about the Government’s plan to close the refinery until the meeting on Tuesday.
In a statement to the media, the OWTU yesterday sought to “bring some clarity” to Energy Minister Franklin Khan’s statement that Roget had previous knowledge about the closure of the plant, but stopped short of calling Khan a liar.
Chief Education & Research Officer & Executive Trustee Ozzi Warwick said he was present at the meeting and at no time did Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley or anyone in his delegation say that the refinery would be shut down.
“Our notes will reflect that in the meeting, the Prime Minister lamented on the state of the refinery and that it was a major problem for Petrotrin and that Petrotrin should come out the refining business,” Warwick said.
Warwick said that Roget pressed Rowley to state exactly what that meant but the Prime Minister insisted that the union wait until the meeting with the board.
“However, up until that time, there was no communication between the board and the union and therefore there was no meeting scheduled,” Warwick said.
Warwick claimed Rowley even further stated that the options presented by the board had the sanction of the Government, but did not state what exactly were those options. He said it was those statements by the Prime Minister that led the OWTU to believe that the refinery was about to be sold.
“Immediately following the meeting when addressing the workers and the national community through the media, Comrade Roget stated what transpired and stated that based on the Prime Minister’s statement we were of the view that their plan will include the selling of the refinery. We stand by this statement!!” Warwick said.
He said since that meeting two weeks ago and the subsequent meeting with the company officials, Roget’s statements were widely covered and publicised.
“It was again reiterated that we believe that even after they shut down the refinery their plan is to sell its assets. His views have been widely reported and can be fact-checked. We also wish to highlight the fact that the statement made by the Minister of Trade, The Hon Paula Gopee-Scoon after the meeting with the Prime Minister never mentioned anything about shutting down the refinery,” Warwick said.
“It is also interesting to note that even after Roget made his public statements at end of the meeting with the Prime Minister and at the prayer session on the 26 August, no one from the government side refuted his statements. It is unacceptable that now that the Government is faced with a massive backlash and is clearly incapable of managing the situation that Minister Khan would seek to play wordsmith.
“The statements by the Minister of Energy is simply an attempt to shift focus away from the more fundamental questions. The fact remains that this Government’s decision, if allowed to go through, will throw away this country’s energy sovereignty in our 56th year of Independence, it will lead to the selling out of our national patrimony, throw thousands of families into turmoil, decimate communities in the South, and will ultimately crash our economy. The Government’s decision is tantamount to treason!!! We therefore again demand that the Government reverse this unpatriotic and catastrophic decision.”
See Page A23