DESPITE the stay of execution granted late Wednesday night to Petrotrin, allowing the company to continue distributing letters of termination it its employees, Oilfield Workers Trade Union president general Ancel Roget said yesterday that he had not received any reports that this had resumed.
“We are not fazed by this. We are advising our members accordingly,” Roget told reporters yesterday at a Communications Workers Union (CWU) protest outside TSTT House on Edward Street. The union, which had only three days before celebrated victory when they were granted the injunction by the Industrial Court, said the matter will be played out and they will “agree to disagree” with the Appeal Court Judge Charmaine Pemberton’s ruling. A hearing of the appeal of the injunction is set for next week.
Roget, who is also president of the Joint Trade Union Movement, attended the CWU’s protest along with representatives from other unions in solidarity with the CWU as they rallied against rumours of job cuts and restructuring at the state telecoms provider.
CWU general secretary Clyde Elder said what the company plans to do is just like the Petrotrin model, breaking the company into parts and then creating a holding company, while terminating workers or else moving them from the unionised TSTT to a non-union entity, although the company has denied this. Soon this will be the model for other utilities like WASA and TTEC, he warned.
Roget agreed, but said unions will come together and “a number of things are going to happen but we can’t say yet” as they move to resist the government’s plans for restructuring in these state enterprises.
The unions also slammed their former comrade, Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, for her silence in the midst of a period of unrest and protest. Baptiste-Primus was one of the longest serving members of the Public Service Association and retired as its executive president in 2009.
“She is silent. Why? She has to beg a bread from the government and if she says anything she will be out of a job. Her integrity is worth more than that and we call on her to make a statement in the face of what is happening,” Roget said.
He was critical of the Prime Minister, saying under Dr Rowley’s leadership the standard of living in the country had fallen dramatically and thousands of people had lost their jobs, despite the government’s assurances that the country’s economy was improving. Roget did thank Rowley for one thing though: “Dr Rowley has united the trade union movement in TT and we thank him for that,” he said.