“Get ready to rumble”
This was the signal by Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget as he led hundreds of Petrotrin workers on a historic “Mother of All Marches” to save the jobs of 4800 oil workers.
The march started just 30 minutes before the OWTU, led by their attorney Douglas Mendes S.C, was expected to present their case to the Industrial Court to halt Petrotrin’s retrenchment exercise.
It was for the first time in decades that oil and sugar held hands in unity as the OWTU was joined by the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union and its president Nirvan Maharaj. Public Service Association president Watson Duke, Congress of the People political leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and Movement for Social Justice leader David Abdulah also joined.
The march is expected to take place over three days, with today’s leg spanning from the Pointe-a-Pierre Roundabout, just outside the Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery to the Rienzi Complex, Couva in very warm weather.
Speaking at the roundabout, Roget said that the march is aimed at arousing and attracting those citizens who are unaware of the importance of Petrotrin to the nation.
He said the government was anti-labour and was going through this process to decimate the trade union movement.
He said that along the way, the union will be raising all the issues relating to Petrotrin and the overall governance of the country. He said this sacrifice was being made for the benefit of T&T and future generations to come.
“This dagger that was aimed straight at the heart of the trade union movement, we, first of all, want the population to know that it is an attempt to destroy the OWTU and destroy the trade union movement. As we proceed along the route from this spot at the Pointe-a-Pierre Roundabout to Port-of-Spain over the three-day period, we will be raising awareness with respect to Petrotrin and other pertinent governance issues that impact on our nation.”
He said the OWTU has already claimed victory in the name of God, saying that they will prove that the government is lying and that Petrotrin can be made into a profitable company without the harsh measures that are being put in place.
Roget said the leaders of the march will not return home until it is completed as they will be camping in Couva and Aranguez.
Tomorrow’s leg is expected to start in Couva and end in Aranguez. Friday’s leg will start in Aranguez and end in Port-of-Spain.
The march has caused a major traffic pile up along the Southern Main Road from Marabella to Claxton Bay.
-by Kevon Felmine