The injunction to stop the sale of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and its assets,if successful, will prevent fenceline communities such as Marabella, Gasparillo and San Fernando from benefiting from an initial injection of $2.5 billion to restart the refinery. So said OWTU leader Ancel Roget, addressing a media conference at the union’s Paramount building, San Fernando headquarters yesterday.
He was commenting on an application filed by former UNC senator Wayne Sturge for the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Energy Affairs to be reconvened.
Roget said the union will take to the streets to expose the “plot” perpetrated by the Opposition party in its bid to prevent the refinery from reopening.
If the reopening goes ahead, workers who have been unemployed since the closure of Petrotrin last November would be rehired to do rehabilitation work on the various plants which comprise the refinery, Roget said.
“The restart of the refinery would involve turnaround works, refurbishment, a thorough inspection and repairs of all of the plants to make sure that when those plants start it can run for a considerable period of time with optimum reliability, so that we will guarantee fuel products for the country.“To be able to do that, before those plants are operationalised and the refinery is restarted, we have to conduct extensive work to the tune of $2.5 billion TT, which is going to be circulating in the local economy."He said the upgrades would require welders, masons, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, labourers, contractors and sub-contractors, scaffolders, mechanics, riggers, safety personnel, security and equipment suppliers.“All of that will be an injection into the economy to stimulate the economy," he said, mentioning that caterers and food vendors would also benefit.
"And this will boost economic activity almost immediately in Marabella and Gasparillo and San Fernando and by extension Point Fortin, La Brea and Cedros.”Roget also said the $2.5 billion is distinct from the US $700 million bid the OWTU-owned Patriotic Energies and Technologies Co Ltd offered for the refinery and its port assets.“That is separate. That has to do with the upgrade, and so we would have already estimated, based on the state of the refinery when it was closed and our estimation over a period of time since its closure, we would have estimated that is what we have to pump into the system to get all of those upgrades and repairs.”
He disagreed with the suggestion that the refinery assets should not be sold until after the 2020 general election, saying it would not only take more money to restart at that point, but might not be able to restart at all.In response to the UNC's legal action, he said, “We will be on the streets again. We prefer to be somewhere else, but this time we are called out to be on the streets by the UNC, so we will be on the streets and we will be telling the truth to the people and we will be exposing the lies.
"But more than that, the consequence of their actions this time around will inflict more pain and suffering on the people.”He also disputed remarks by UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who said the union had not done anything to prevent the closure of the refinery. Roget said it had mounted challenges both in the court and on the streets.He produced a list of the union’s actions, which included a prayer and candlelight vigil outside the PM’s office on August 26 and street meetings at Cedros and Marabella on September 3 and 5.Roget said the union had also initiated a September 7 day of rest and reflection and demonstrated outside the PM’s office from September 26-28.
“We must ask the question, what drastic action the honourable leader of the Opposition wanted the OWTU to take, outside of all the lawful, legitimate and constitutionally guaranteed action that we could take, What other action? Tell us what we should have done. We were in the courts, we were on the streets.”He also replied to her comments that he was not Persad-Bissessar's father and she did not have to respond to him, saying while they may have the same birthdate, they did not share the same birth year, as she is several years older than him.