ATTORNEY for the Oilfield Workers' Trade Union (OWTU), Douglas Mendes SC, has accused state-owned Petrotrin of trying to "mamaguy" workers regarding the company's restructuring.
He made the comments on Tuesday during his submissions at the hearing of the industrial relations offence (IRO) filed by OWTU against Petrotrin and being heard before the Industrial Court, Port of Spain. The marathon session began at 9.30 am and finished at minutes to 10 pm.
He said there was very little in dispute regarding the facts.
"We have known for quite a long time Petrotrin was in financial difficulties and efforts were made to find solutions."
He said a need for restructuring and reduction in workforce was identified and this was why the memorandum of agreement (MOA) was set up and there were committees that included union representatives. Mendes added everything was proceeding within good industrial relations practice, but instead of Petrotrin returning to the joint committee the decision was made to close Petrotrin without speaking to the union.
He said Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet, under cross-examination, was asked why the company did not go back to the union and he responded it would not have made any difference and there was no other alternative but to shut down. Mendes said Espinet believes this excuses him of a Section 40 violation (about the obligation to meet, treat and enter into negotiations).
"This would open the door to any company saying they are relieved of the obligation because the union can't make a contribution."