(T&T Newsday, Yvonne Webb, 23.Jul.2019) — President General of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget is predicting that the many lies told about the closure of Petrotrin would mark the end of the reign of Prime Minister Dr Rowley’s administration.
Just as the “campaign of lies and deceit” has exposed Brexit, it would do the same to Rowley and his Cabinet, Roget said at the OWTU’s 80th annual Conference of Delegates last Friday at the union’s Paramount Building, San Fernando headquarters.
Saying Brexit was nothing more than a massive lie and two prime ministers were lost in the process even as the UK scrambles to select another PM, he told the delegates to be patient, as a general elections draws ever nearer in this country.
“Because like the Petrotrin situation, they did not think through the consequences of Brexit.” Similarly, Roget referred to the Washington Post report of US President Donald Trump’s 10,111 lies in 828 days, saying it sounds familiar to what is happening in the local scenario.
“Never in the history of this country has a government told so many lies around one issue (Petrotrin),” Roget said as he outlined what he claimed were some of the lies. “I want to suggest that they only reason they (government) were allowed to tell so many lies and simply get away with it is because some people are silent because of their gross hypocrisy and racial political party loyalty.”
“Could you imagine if the United National Congress (UNC) had attempted to close Petrotrin what would have happened? Let us be honest, the PNM and their supporters would have never remained silent as they are now. They would never have allowed the closure of the biggest state enterprise in the English-speaking Caribbean.
“But with the company’s closure and with the sending home of all the workers and with over 45,000 and the economy adversely impacted, some of these same PNM party supporters actually gave their support to this atrocity. Why? Only because of party loyalty and race. These are the same people who marched against the fake E-mailgate. Clearly this is hypocrisy at its shameless worst”
He recalled when government announced the closure it said it did so on expert advice, but to date, there is no evidence to substantiate the recommendations to close or the recommender.
“They also lied when they told the country that it was only the refinery to be closed down and that only 1,700 workers would be displaced. Remember that? Instead it was all, all, all Petrotrin workers who were sent home.”
Addressing mainly ex Petrotrin workers, Roget said the ripple effect of the closure is being felt by businesses throughout the entire southern part of the country and in some cases, among service providers as far as Port of Spain and other parts of the country
“They also lied when they said that the Petrotrin workers would be given enhanced packages. Instead a large number of workers are yet to be properly compensated and some are yet to receive any compensation or severance. Yet they are still on political platforms giving false impressions to the country that each worker received at least $500,000.
“There can be nothing further from the truth. Like Brexit and Trump, they wilfully misled the population by calculating that average using the very high salaries of top managers and workers with high number of years in service.”
Responding to Rowley’s statement at a recent PNM meeting in Pleasantville, that 800 of 1,000 jobs promised in the successor companies, Heritage and Paria, have been filled, Roget challenged him to say how many of them are ex-Petrotrin workers.
He said these positions are not permanent but short-term contracts with no job security, no health and safety standards, no benefits and longer hours of work for less than one third of what was previously paid for the same job.