FITUN: Petrotrin decision puts us back in colonial times

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non-Governmental Organisations (FITUN) says the decision to close down the refining operations of Petrotrin, is putting the country back to a place similar to colonial times.

FITUn is demanding that the report of the Lashley Committee into the restructuring of Petrotrin, be made public.

FITUN's president Joseph Remy issued the following statement on Wednesday.

"The Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non-Governmental Organisations, FITUN, demands that the Prime Minister and his Government immediately rescind their ill-advised and hastily taken decision to "SHUTDOWN' the Oil Refinery at PETROTRIN.

From all reports emanating so far, it is clear that the Government has abandoned their publicly stated position of consultation and engagement with the Recognised Majority Union at PETROTRIN, the OWTU and has engaged in "One Manism and Governance by Arrogance".

This decision is not backed by any sound and cogent financial, economical and social analysis and arguments. How can a Government in a Sovereign Nation that is on the eve of celebrating Fifty-Six (56) Years as an Independent Nation, take such an unpatriotic decision based on the advice of a Foreign Consultancy Firm.

This seems to have placed us right back to the days when our Energy Sector was in the hands of the Colonial Masters. FITUN is questioning this "Cabinet Decision" against the background of the Governments commissioned Lashley Committee that did an in-depth investigation, analysis and report on the status of PETROTRINand made recommendations on its future direction.

Ironically, Mr. Lashley, the Chairman, Wilfred Espinet, (the new PNM Hatchet Man) and two other current Board members were part of that said Committee.

From all reports, the decision to close down the Refinery was not part of the recommendations of the Lashley Committee.

This reminds us of the decision, to close down the Tourism Development Company, TDC, based on a "Cabinet Decision" but contrary to a Government Commissioned Analysis of the Company which was done by a Foreign Consultant, whose Report recommended other viable options for the viability and sustainability of the TDC.

FITUN is demanding that this Lashley Report should be made public, consistent with the Prime Minister's declaration in Parliament, and consistent with the principle of full disclosure in an instance where the Governments decision has serious impact on the Public Good and Welfare.

FITUN would like the Country to step back and take note of some of the reasons for the current state of PETROTRIN. We recall the Union raising concerns with respect to the following decisions by previous Board of Directors and successive Governments: I.

The Infamous World Gas to liquid (WGTL) project which started off as a US$600M Project that eventually mushroomed to a US$1.4 Billion Dollar Fiasco. Remember, up to now, no one has been held accountable for this Criminal Neglect. II. The New Corporate Headquarters which cost some $TT$170 Million Dollars and was abandoned. III.

The Ultra-Sulphur Diesel Plant which initial cost was US$112 Million but has mushroomed to a US$721 incomplete Project. We also wish to remind the population that these Projects were undertaken under a PNM Administration with the current Prime Minister and the current Minister of Finance sitting as Senior Cabinet Ministers.

They sat silent and allowed the then PM to give his Blue Eyed Boy, the late Malcolm Jones free reign to decimate PETROTRINbased on some PIPE DREAM. Now they are hypocritically coming to the nation and playing Pontius Pilate.

What Hypocrisy. FITUN would like to reiterate that we duly believe that the OWTU has proffered very reliable and meaningful recommendations on the Restructuring of PETROTRIN,which would have seen the maintenance of the Refinery Operations in a restructured and reengineered Company, which would have been viable and sustainable.

But, consistent with this Governments blatant disregard for Good Industrial Relations Practices, they have placed their Position into the Public Domain and then sought to engage the Recognised Majority Union. FITUN would like to dispel the Energy Minister's statement that PETROTRIN is like a Black Hole and could eventually bankrupt the Country.

Contrary to the Ministers belief, we believe that it is the Governments current lack of vision and focussed economic policies that have the potential to bankrupt the Country.

In these circumstances the FITUN demands that the Prime Minister must instruct the Board of Directors to put an immediate hold on this ill-timed and ill-advised decision and follow the principles of Good and Proper Industrial Relations Practices and engage the OWTU in meaningful discussions aimed at resolving this very critical socio-economic issue.

This decision to hastily Shut-Down the Refinery, if not reversed, would have serious and severe debilitating consequences for the communities of Marabella, Plaisance Park, Claxton Bay, St. Margaret's, Gasparillo, Vista bella, San Fernando and several other outlying districts in the South Central and South Western Area of the Country.

This fallout coupled with the TDC fallout and the Arcelor Mitall Fallout, can only add fuel to the already toxic and rampant Social Decay and the attendant rampant Crime Situation. A Word to the Wise is sufficient."

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