San Fernando seems to be becoming more and more of a shantytown.
That’s the view of Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Allyson West, who claimed to be a proud southerner.
Speaking in Tuesday’s Senate debate on Petrotrin’s refinery closure, she said she was a “proud member of San Fernando” having grown up there with “pride and hope propelled by the existence of Texaco and Petrotrin.”
But she added, “When I said I was a proud southerner when I lived in South, San Fernando was booming, it was bright, growing with development.”
“In the last couple years when I’ve driven to San Fernando, I’ve been distressed by the fact that San Fernando seems to be becoming more and more of a shantytown—there’s no growth, no development, you’re not seeing the prosperity that Texaco and Petrotrin brought at that time.”
West said that was a reflection of what was happening to Petrotrin as the leading industry in the area. She said San Fernando needed an injection if it is to continue to grow.
West said she also had family in Petrotrin and her brother was in charge of the Catalytic (CAT) cracker and had once been injured in an accident years ago.
“So I’m personally aware of the issues. It’s not that we weren’t aware of the issues or not caring or concerned about employees,” she said, adding Government was faced with a tough decision that had to be made.
West admitted there was an adverse impact on employees, but noted measures were implemented for them.
She argued that half of Petrotrin employees were millennials and studies showed these people hop from job to job and they might have been less adverse to closure especially since they got lump sums.
“We have a group who wasn’t committed to staying in a job for life and would have welcomed the opportunity for change and try new things,” she said.
West detailed how workers’ issues were being addressed, adding the average payout per employee was $520,000 in the total $2.7 bn termination package. West said at least 1,000 would be employed at the new Heritage and Paria Fuel Trading companies plus outsourcing of jobs.
Reporter: Gail Alexander