THE EDITOR: The country is currently faced with the challenging issue of the impending closure of the Petrotrin oil refinery in Pointe-a-Pierre, along with the termination of several hundred jobs.
This must have been an extremely painful conclusion for the decision-makers as the oil refining business was operational for approximately 100 years.
According to Julius Caesar, “The die is cast,” the country now looks to the future.
The other side of the equation, which is being suppressed, reflects the positive aspects of the closure. As a result of this action an environment is created in which the affected employees and other stakeholders experience confusion, frustration, despair and general trauma.
The Government has said that employees whose jobs are to be terminated will be offered an attractive separation package. Their psychological needs would be addressed through the Employees Assistance Programme, and the restructuring and expansion of other areas within the company will generate new employment opportunities.
In addition, the recent agreement for the proposed dry-docking facility in La Brea will also be an opening for jobs. Notwithstanding these prospects, the anticipated financial package may be used as a platform for creativity and entrepreneurship.
Negative remarks pertaining to the closing down of the refinery were continuously highlighted on the airwaves. These pronouncements may be internalised and accepted in a personal manner to the detriment of the employees.
The twisted signals may predispose these individuals to become emotionally overwhelmed and in some instances disoriented. This action may further aggravate sensitive and emotionally charged workers who are looking forward to emotional comfort and support.
Our society has become heartless as focus is placed on the negative rather than consideration of the common good, not only with respect to the affected stakeholders but to all citizens.
Trade unions have a most important role in protecting the collective interests of workers in their negotiations for job security, improved working conditions, wages and salaries, and other issues.
However, in addition to their bargaining efforts, emphasis should be placed on the transformation of work ethics where high productivity and consistently high-quality work are as important or even supersede the mighty dollar.
This will certainly demonstrate true patriotism as unions move towards futuristic thinking, thereby facilitating their members to visualise and act upon the possibilities of tomorrow with creativity and new strategies.
There seems to be hope on the horizon for the employees and the union. Where there are losses at the old refinery, there will be gains within the new enterprises.
JOAN HARRISON via e-mail