Kesar: Not true that OWTU played role in purported sale of Petrotrin refinery

Trinmar’s Branch President Ernesto Kesar is debunking any notion that the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) had anything to do with the purported sale of Petrotrin’s refinery.

In an interview on Tuesday morning about an hour before the OWTU went into a meeting with Petrotrin’s Board, Kesar said the lives of over 100,000 people were hanging in a balance.

He said about 3,400 workers will be directly affected if the PNM government sold or privatized Petrotrin’s operations.

Kesar said it was the OWTU that signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Petrotrin to restructure the troubled oil company.

Up until 2008, Kesar said the company was turning a profit and workers were enjoying variable pay and profit sharing.

"The government spent millions to bail out Clico and what did Clico do for our country? Petrotrin is the lifeblood of our economy," Kesar said as workers applauded.

He admitted that during earlier talks, the government agreed to restructure the company but he said there was no consultation about the sale of the refinery.

"If it is true that the government went behind the backs of the OWTU and sold the refinery then it was the most devilish and sinister plan ever plotted by the PNM government," Kesar said. 

He added that the OWTU is the legally recognized trade union of the company and any plan to restructure Petrotrin must go through the union.

The company met with the OWTU from 10:30 am on Tuesday morning, following which the OWTU will address its membership at noon.

Road wagon tankers continued to operate as usual from the Petrotrin bond and there was a heavy police presence at the state-owned company.

More as this story develops.

 - by Radhica De Silva

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