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Tuesday 18 December 2018
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Petrotrin workers gather under eyes of army and police

Petrotrin workers is seen walking out with their envelopes which  they received from Inland Revenuwe this morning. Photo by Vashti Singh
Petrotrin workers is seen walking out with their envelopes which they received from Inland Revenuwe this morning. Photo by Vashti Singh

HUNDREDS of ex-Petrotrin workers who were prevented from submitting their tax exemption certificates on Monday are now gathered at the Guaracara Sports Club to do so this morning.

Reports indicate there are long lines of workers and a heavy presence of police and army personnel on site.

Former chairman of the now-defunct Petrotrin, Wilfred Espinet, said arrangements have been put in place for the employees to deposit their documents at the Guaracara Sports Club, Pointe-a-Pierre, from this morning.

In an interview on Monday afternoon, Espinet said he received information that the workers from whose severance benefits deductions were made in lieu of them presenting their 2017 income tax returns, were able to submit their documents.

However, in a text message late yesterday, Espinet said he was mistaken.

“I am sorry. My error. The employees will be able to drop off the BIR (Board of Inland Revenue) forms at the Guaracara Sports Club from tomorrow (Tuesday), not today (Monday) as I stated.”

On their last working day, last Friday, workers were informed via an internal release that the taxes would have been withheld and placed in an escrow account, while they verified their tax status.

“The process of granting the tax exemption to every employee could take some time. Accordingly, to avoid any delay in making the termination payments, where information/documentation is outstanding to the BIR, the Board of Directors has instructed Petrotrin, as the employer, to ensure on-time termination payments by withholding taxes on the full amount and holding these in escrow until confirmation of each employees tax status is received,” according to the circular.

Failure to do so, the release stated, would result in the withheld funds being remitted to the BIR.

Education officer of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union Ozzi Warwick said he expected that having already been removed from their jobs, workers would not have to struggle to get what they were entitled to.

“This is inhumane. You could have given them a smooth send-off.”

He said contrary to what the company’s circular stated workers have been told they need to file for the last five years, not just for 2017, to access the tax exemption. Additionally, he said, some people are yet to receive their benefits and in instances where they did, the calculations are wrong.

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