Petrotrin has filed its appeal against the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union's injunction stopping it from terminating workers as it moves to restructure its operations.
In a telephone interview with CNC3, Senior Counsel Reginald Armour, who is leading the company's legal team, confirmed the urgent appeal was filed in the Court of Appeal's registry this evening.
However, the T&T Guardian understands that up to 6 pm the company had not received a date and time for the hearing of the appeal against the Industrial Court's decision to grant the injunction.
At the eventual hearing, the company is expected to ask the Appeal Court for a stay of the injunction pending the determination of the appeal, as the request was denied by the Industrial Court after the injunction was granted on Monday.
In the event the company is unable to overturn the injunction on appeal, it will stand pending the determination of the OWTU's complaint of an industrial relations offence allegedly committed by the company in its ongoing move to close its operations.
Termination letters issued to groups of workers between last Friday and Monday afternoon will not be binding until the injunction is lifted.
Delivering a 16-page judgement at the Industrial Court's headquarters in Port-of-Spain on Monday afternoon, the court's President Deborah Thomas-Felix and four of her colleagues ruled the injunction was required to protect against the potential risk of injustice while the union's industrial relations complaint against the company is pending.
"It is our view that there would be a greater injustice if the issues affecting the loss of employment of 5,500 workers are not properly ventilated before the closure of the company," Thomas-Felix said.
In the complaint, the OWTU is alleging that Petrotrin committed the offence by failing to consult with it before taking the decision to close the company and send home almost 5,000 workers. It claims the company breached a memorandum of agreement signed between the parties in April, as the company only informed the union of the decision after making it in conjunction with Cabinet in July.
The offence carries a $4,000 fine, but the union may ask the court to order that the parties restart discussions on the issue.
- by Derek Achong