Tewarie blames low turnout to union march on workers' dejection

Caroni Central MP, Dr Bhoe Tewarie believes Petrotrin workers are feeling dejected and this is why most of them failed to join the trade union movement in its three-day march from Pointe-a-Pierre to Port-of-Spain.

Even though over 4,700 workers are set to lose their jobs by November, only a few hundred people turned up for the Trade union's "monster march" in Central Trinidad on Thursday.

Speaking to the Guardian at a post-budget forum held at the Couva/ Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce seminar yesterday,

Tewarie said the low turnout was indicative of the feelings of depression being faced by the Petrotrin workers.

"I believe the low participation is because people feel browbeaten. Workers feel it's a done deal and that the Board is proceeding with its business regardless of how they feel so they think they might as well conserve their energy and think about how they will proceed after retrenchment," Tewarie said.

He added, "There is a promise that everybody will be taken care of financially after the retrenchment. Some workers may feel hopeful that they will be rehired so I suspect there are mixed  feelings about whether they should participate in the march."

He added, "I don't know how the issue before the Industrial Court will be resolved but whatever happens it will be according to law and this will have to be taken into account. I think that's where we are at this point." 

He also said there was no evidence to suggest that workers or the trade unions were behind any incidents of alleged sabotage.

"We have to verify that it is sabotage. I don't want to cast aspersions on the union and the workers but in situations of frustration things like this happen," Tewarie said.

He added that the Petrotrin Board must ensure there is enough security to ensure that their plans are carried out in an environment of peace.

"I don't think it makes sense to sabotage the country or sabotage Petrotrin. I would never support that kind of thing. I believe you have to argue and fight to assert yourself and your position and influence people into supporting your position. I don’t believe in either sabotage, subversion or violence," Tewarie said.

He added that whatever trials are being faced by Petrotrin workers, he hoped that all parties could move peacefully forward.

On Wednesday, Petrotrin issued a statement saying it uncovered three acts of sabotage at its Central Los Bajos Field on Tuesday night.

The company said a fire was started in a chemical shed at North Palo Seco, Tank Battery No.1 (McLeod Battery) in the Central Los Bajos Field.

Investigators found that a two-inch diameter valve on Tank No. 1 was opened and a bull plug removed from Tank No. 2, causing a quantity of oil and water to flow inside the bunded area.

Four test tanks bleed valves were also opened, but the tanks were empty.

The company said all regulatory agencies, including the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs; the Environmental Management Authority (EMA); and the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) were notified.

- by Radhica De Silva

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