Nineteen men, all unionised employees of Oilbelt Services Limited with in excess of ten years’ service each, stood with letters of redundancy in their hands yesterday evening, contemplating how they were going to break the news to their families.
Daniel Hernandez, a gathering station attendant for the past 14 years with the Grand Ravine company, a subsidiary of Trinity Exploration and Production, said the time frame in which they were told of plans to separate them was so short they did not have time to think, much less plan ahead.
“I have over 14 years’ service with this company and after today I will no longer be employed as a gathering station attendant. I am told that my job has become redundant, but there will be somebody else to fill it, a person with two or less years service.
“How is that possible? We want justice. We need to take this matter further, “ Hernandez, who is also a shop steward with the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), which represents the workers, said.
“On March 9 they told us they would retrench and gave us seven days to respond. They said within that seven days’ time redundancy notices will be served. Workers did not have to time to think, make plans for the future and today we don’t know what to tell our families when we get home.”
Another OWTU shop steward and employee, Brian Khadoo, explained that at 2.30 pm yesterday, Gerard Pinard, head of the company’s legal firm, Zapotech Solutions, met with employees and announced plans to make their jobs redundant.
Under the watchful eyes of armed police officers and private security, the workers were subsequently handed the notices in sealed brown envelopes bearing their names, as they made their way out the Grand Ravine compound where Khadoo and others addressed them.
Khadoo said a total of 33 employees, 19 from of Oilbelt and 14 more from the wider Trinity pool, were served with redundancy notices, as the apparent continuing slowdown in the energy sector continues to affect energy-based companies and the downstream sector.
“They changed the heading from retrenchment to redundancy and they told us that from today (yesterday) they would no longer require us on the compound.”
Khadoo shared a copy of his letter, which advised that upon a review of the company’s organisation structure, his position as a welder was now redundant. It also proposed an enhanced separation package.
Khadoo said there were talks with the union, “but the company still went ahead with their plans to cut the labour force.”
Efforts to contact management of the companies were unsuccessful yesterday.
SOURCE: www.guardian.co.tt (Yvonne Webb)