OWTU denies workers sabotaging oil assets

The Oil­fields Work­ers’ Trade Union is deny­ing work­er in­volve­ment in the sab­o­tag­ing of Petrotrin as­sets fol­low­ing the shut­down of the com­pa­ny on Fri­day.

The union made the com­ment in re­sponse to a me­dia re­lease by Trinidad Pe­tro­le­um Hold­ings Ltd (TPHL), the com­pa­ny tak­ing over Petrotrin as­sets, which stat­ed ac­cess to all its fa­cil­i­ties was sus­pend­ed fol­low­ing acts of sab­o­tage by union mem­bers and em­ploy­ees. Petrotrin is now a lega­cy com­pa­ny but is a sub­sidiary of the new­ly formed TPHL.

In a state­ment yes­ter­day, how­ev­er, the union said it views the ac­cu­sa­tion by the TPHL man­age­ment and by ex­ten­sion the Gov­ern­ment as mere­ly a dis­trac­tion to take away from what their “rash, in­com­pe­tent and un­pre­pared de­ci­sion” has brought to cit­i­zens.

The union urged the TPHL to thor­ough­ly check their sources be­fore cast­ing “un­war­rant­ed and un­jus­ti­fi­able” blame to per­sons who were not in­volved in such in­ci­dents.

On Sat­ur­day, Her­itage Pe­tro­le­um Com­pa­ny Ltd, which has now ac­quired many of Petrotrin as­sets, said it was now work­ing with the au­thor­i­ties to find the par­ties re­spon­si­ble for sev­er­ing a 2.7-inch flow line in Grand Riv­iere, Ran­cho Que­ma­do, on Fri­day. This re­sult­ed in ap­prox­i­mate­ly five bar­rels of oil be­ing spilt. How­ev­er, it was con­tained in an area of about 20 feet and there was no dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment. The line was re­paired and is now op­er­a­tional.

There were al­so de­lib­er­ate­ly set fires at sev­er­al fa­cil­i­ties in San­ta Flo­ra and the block­ing of the com­pa­ny premis­es with mo­bile drilling rigs.

As a con­se­quence, the TPHL an­nounced it had sus­pend­ed all ac­cess to its fa­cil­i­ties by non-es­sen­tial per­son­nel fol­low­ing sev­er­al in­ci­dents of van­dal­ism, sab­o­tage and ob­struc­tion by union mem­bers and oth­er work­ers.

“The dam­age and de­struc­tion in­clud­ed the van­dal­is­ing of mo­bile oil­field equip­ment, a fire ten­der, state prop­er­ty and pri­vate­ly owned ve­hi­cles. These mea­sures are crit­i­cal to en­sure the safe­ty and well-be­ing of all le­git­i­mate per­son­nel and to pro­tect and pre­serve valu­able State as­sets,” the re­lease said.

“With im­me­di­ate ef­fect, on­ly per­sons with valid iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, spe­cif­ic com­pa­ny pass­es and who are list­ed for ac­cess will be al­lowed in­to the com­pa­ny’s fa­cil­i­ties. There will be no ex­cep­tions.”

The com­pa­ny said it al­so plans to use all le­gal means to en­sure those re­spon­si­ble are pros­e­cut­ed.

How­ev­er, the union said the on­ly ac­tion the work­ers took on Fri­day came af­ter the Gov­ern­ment failed to meet its promise to pay work­ers their full salary be­fore clo­sure of the plants and the re­trench­ment of all em­ploy­ees. The work­ers’ re­sponse, the union said, was to re­main at the var­i­ous com­pounds and peace­ful­ly de­mand pay­ments and salaries they were du­ly owed.

- by Kevon Felmine

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