Police stand guard at Petrotrin
By Richardson Dhalai Sunday, March 17 2013
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Police officers stand guard at the Bond section of the Petrotrin Refinery along the Southern Main Road, Pointe-a-Pierre, to allow the tank wagons to e...
As industrial action at State-owned oil company, Petrotrin, entered a fourth consecutive day yesterday, heavily armed police officers set up crowd-control barricades at the entrance leading to the company’s Petroleum Bond to enable road tank wagons, which had not been able to enter the compound for the previous three days, to access the compound for fuel supplies.
The action infuriated workers, who had stood in front of the entrances over the past three days, and alleged that the police officers had used intimidatory tactics against the union which was engaging in “accepted” industrial action.
Speaking to Sunday Newsday, OWTU Pointe-a-Pierre branch president, Roger Stewart, who also noting that no workers had been “injured or damaged”, nevertheless condemned the action by the police officers.
“The workers were engaged in a peaceful protest action in front the Bond gate when the Government police would have come in their numbers and shoved us out of the way,” Stewart said
“The comrades are very disciplined comrades so they were not injured or damaged during the protest. They have physically pushed us out of the way to allow those (road tank) wagons to go in,” Stewart said, he also alleged that the fuel Bond was being operated by management personnel who were “not adhering to all the safety practices as it pertains to the vehicles, the trucks, ensuring the trucks are properly equipped to carry petroleum fuel.”
Meanwhile, Superintendent of police Cecil Santana, who was overseeing the police action, disputed Stewart’s claim of intimidatory tactics saying officers had asked the workers to move from the roadway and stand behind the barricades.
“We are here for a purpose and that is to ensure that the wagons enter and exit the compound freely,” he said, adding, “there was no confrontation. We just asked them to move.”
Asked how long the police officers would remain at the site, Santana said, “as long as is necessary.”
Meanwhile, Petrotrin has signalled its intention to engage in further discussions with the OWTU despite last Friday’s marathon discussions which failed to end the industrial impasse.
On Friday, Petrotrin’s president, Khalid Hassanali, together with members of the company’s executive management met with OWTU president general, Ancel Roget and other union members for “over eight hours in an urgent effort to bring a peaceful resolution” to the industrial action.
In a media release yesterday, Petrotrin stated, “these efforts failed to bring any resolution”, and noted that discussions “centred on the payment of variable pay (profit sharing) for the 2009/2010 fiscal period.”
In a telephone interview yesterday, OWTU executive member, Ozzi Warwick also confirmed that no agreement had been reached and that industrial action was continuing throughout the oil company.