THE PRIME Minister has outlined a basket of benefits that separated oil workers at Petrotrin are to receive, as the company goes ahead with its restructuring plan.
Dr Rowley said these include enhanced early-retirement packages for people over 50, land for houses, and stock holding in the new restructured Petrotrin.
Addressing a political meeting at Marabella on the “resurgence” of Petrotrin on Tuesday night, he said he understands there will be serious consequences arising from the decision taken to close the refinery, separate the workers and rehire 1,000 to manage the operation.
“There are ways of doing things to ease the burden of those who are directly affected. Nobody will go home without an attractive separation package. A large number of the workers who are employed in refining and would be affected, are approximately in the age 50 and above range. We are going to offer them an attractive early-retirement package and beyond that they will have their pension to access.”
He pledged, “Nobody will end up on the streets eating from the garbage bins. You may not be enjoying the land of milk and honey that you are enjoying now, but the milk dry-up long time and the money done, so you can have a decent living on the separation.”
Rowley said there are other things government will do to make it easier for the workers, including public-sector programmes. He said they will also enter into the housing programme, and for workers who are interested in getting a house, Petrotrin lands around the southland would be made available.
In addition to this benefit, Rowley noted that some households might be under additional pressure, having children to look after.
“Because of the nature of this development, we will put special systems in place to make sure all those children get what is required to maintain the quality of life you wanted to have.”
Rowley said one can expect a lot more developmental work in the south as the focus is to provide more job opportunities, which may be temporary in nature.
“While we are not going to close down Petrotrin, we are getting out of the refinery business. We are going to redouble our efforts and increase our expenditure in the production of oil. We will spend more money in drilling, in Fyzabad, Palo Seco.”
Rowley said it is the refinery which has been losing money, and with the closure of the refinery and improved oil production, Petrotrin can become profitable.
Joseph Roberts, president of the National Petroleum Staff Association, which represents monthly-paid senior staff at Petrotrin, said more information was needed.
“From where we sit, we are unclear what that (compensation package) means. The company has not sat down with us to present any proposal or listen to our proposals for the compensation package. There is a level of uncertainty among workers.” He accused Rowley, his Energy Minister and the Petrotrin chairman of each saying different things.