OWTU representatives on Friday expressed concern over what they described as a “pattern of workers bearing the full burden” of economic adjustments made by energy companies, to adjust to the changing markets in the oil and gas industry.
This as they prepare to meet with the management of Yara Trinidad Ltd to find out the circumstances surrounding plans to issue up to 30 retrenchment letters to employees maintaining the Point Fortin ammonia plant which closed its doors in December 2019.
Executive member Ozzi Warwick told Newsday the union and the ammonia company are expected to meet this week.
In November 2019, Yara announced the closure of its wholly-owned ammonia plant. The plant was relatively small with a production capacity of 270,000 tonnes, and had a lower energy efficiency level than the company’s standard. The plant was also affected by low ammonia prices and failed negotiations between the company and NGC, so much so that the company could not sustain it, according to Yara’s release issued last year.
On Wednesday, sources said between 25 and 30 employees were summoned to a meeting. A letter from the OWTU to the company was said to have halted the distribution of termination letters, but employees said management was using any means necessary to deliver retrenchment letters to staff.
“He (the manager) is sending a driver to homes to communicate their retrenchment. He is sending emails to their Yara work emails, he is directing the contracted manager of the Yara plant to call employees to communicate their retrenchment,” employees said in a whatsapp message to union representatives.
Employees said the company is using the issuance of these letters as the beginning of a 45-day period to have discussions with the union in accordance with the retrenchment act.
Warwick told Newsday he could neither confirm nor deny the claims made by the employees, but said in its meeting this week, the union will find out if there was any truth to these claims.
Calls to Energy Minister Franklin Khan went unanswered.