RETIREES of the Trinmar branch of Petrotrin believe that the state-owned company is sending a clear message to them – Get sick and dead!
The retirees in their 60s ,70s and 80s say that within the last two months Trinmar has stopped paying their medical expenses and they now have to to foot their own bills. Their expenses are high, they said, and may amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The frustrated pensioners said it was unfair to them when many of them have spent 50 years working at Trinmar and paying towards their medical plan.
Today the retirees held a meeting at Victor Chin Kit Park in Point Fortin to voice their concerns.
An upset Franky Mc Guire, 63, said: “This is not supposed to be. When I was younger I put things in place so that when any health problems arise my family and I would be taken care of.”
He told Newsday what was happening was disheartening. “We are not begging for money. This is our contributions over the years. Why are they treating us so? It is so frustrating. “But I think the Government is sending us a clear message: ‘Get sick and dead!’” Mc Guire said over the years he and other retirees have been going to private medical institutions and presenting the bills, but in October this changed.
“We are being told at these medical institutions that they are not accepting our bills again ,since they were no longer being paid by Trinmar.”
Many of the retirees are due to undergo operations within the next month. “Where are they going to get this money from? And no one is telling us anything when we are asking questions. What is really going on? Some of us are really not well.”
Newsday learnt that many of the retirees have to undergo cataract operations, prostate surgery and other procedures.
An 85-year-old Cap-de-Ville man, who expected to have an operation on Wednesday was turned away, Mc Guire said.
“He did not know that Trinmar had stopped paying the medical bill. This has hit everyone by surprise. Some of us cannot walk properly. Look at this 85-year-old man, he is shaking and he cannot move. This is madness,” Mc Guire told Newsday. Another retiree, Barry Bartholomew, 71, said he is still in shock.
“My entire family is on the plan and has been for years. I made my contributions and still continue to, so I really cannot understand what is happening now,”
Bartholomew said he retired from Trinmar in 2007. His two sons, who work there, are facing retrenchment.
“I grew up as a child in the oil industry and to see where it has reached now is really sad news . I was not expecting this, because I had put plans in place. It is really unfair,”
Contacted yesterday Petrotrin chairman, Wilfred Espinet denied the retirees’ claims, saying the company is still paying for their medical plans. “It is not true. There is no such thing. The medical programme is still in effect.”
Espinet told Newsday there is intended to be a change when the company stops operating, but an alternative would be put in place.
Petrotrin is to be shut down in the next few weeks and permanent employees are expected to receive termination packages in accordance with the relevant collective agreements.