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Saturday 22 September 2018
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PM promises help for refinery workers

What's our fate?: Petrotrin labourer Daniel George in deep thought as his 11-month-old son, Micah, smiles at him outside the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair last Thursday when Government told the OWTU it would proceed with the closure of the Petrotrin refinery. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI

AT the start of Friday, the day trade unions called on workers to “rest and reflect”, the Prime Minister implored public servants to turn up to work, and by the end of the day at least one ministry thanked its staff for their high turnout.

Dr Keith Rowley expressed empathy for workers set to be affected by the closure of the Petrotrin refinery and promised them assistance, but said public servants must work “harder and smarter” to sustain the nation.

“I appeal to all those who have been entrusted with the responsibility and blessing of employment to honour and respect this obligation.”

A public servant’s job is not just a means to earn a wage but is the very foundation of the nation’s growth and development, he said. “We are the stewards of the people’s business.”

Empathising with the refinery workers, he was heartened that our ability to empathise with each other was active and strong. “The Government remains committed to ensuring that all affected employees, families and communities are treated with due care, dignity and respect. These changes, while absolutely necessary, will be implemented with compassion.”

He said within weeks the union and the company will negotiate separation packages for employees, which may help alleviate some of the current anxieties. The Government is also working on industrial projects to rejuvenate Trinidad’s south-western peninsula, he added. “If we are to chart a course forward for Trinidad and Tobago we will need to be proactive, progressive and productive.

“It will require us to work harder and smarter for our own benefit. And sometimes it will call for the enforcement of unpleasant decisions today so that we can secure a better tomorrow.”

Rowley said that if we want change, we cannot keep repeating the same mistakes and uphold the status quo.

“To those of you who are committed to building a better Trinidad and Tobago I urge you to adopt a nation-first approach.”

By Friday evening, Minister of National Security Stuart Young, in a statement , thanked his staff for their high turnout, and ignoring calls to avoid reporting for work but instead opt to continue serving the nation.

He said the ministry’s general administration division had a staff turnout of 90 per cent. Young also hailed the high turnout of staff at the immigration and probation divisions.

The minister, on behalf of the citizenry, also thanked the Police Service, Defence Force, Prison Service, Fire Service and Lifeguard Services Division for their continued commitment to their oaths to ensure the safety and security of TT.


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