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PM: Govt will act if strike occurs

CLINT CHAN TACK Thursday, January 5 2017

PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday declared that Government has not disrespected the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) and is prepared to act in the public’s interest should the union initiate strike action against State oil company Petrotrin. Commenting on the issue at a news conference following a two-day Government retreat at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, Rowley said, “The Government is not hostile to the union. The Government is not disrespectful to the union.

The Government has a responsibility to the wider national community.” Reiterating that his administration did not offer a zero-zero-zero wage proposal to the OWTU, Rowley disclosed that this proposal was made by the former People’s Partnership (PP) government in 2011, “in a time of plenty” for the period 2011 to 2015. He reminded reporters this matter is currently before the Industrial Court. Rowley also said, “ I can tell you a one percent increase involves hundreds of millions of dollars.” He then disclosed that Petrotrin’s ability to pay any wage increase now will be a charge on the Exchequer because, “ currently, the company is basically...

at this particular time...a ward of the Ministry of Finance.” Rowley said he expected the” venerable and responsible OWTU” to do their duty to the people of TT and themselves, to help rectify this situation.

Expecting that “reason and common sense will prevail,” Rowley said, “As Prime Minister who wants the best for all our citizens and wants the best for our employees at Petrotrin...I think it would be irresponsible on the part of the Government to enter into that arrangement to offer and execute an increase on Petrotrin’s payroll for 2015 to 2017, not knowing what that percentage increase will apply to.” He said it is, “s more reasonable for us to conclude the period 2011 to 2015 and then we will know...

that becomes the base on which the period 2015 to 2017 can be concluded.” Should the OWTU strike from next Monday, Rowley said, “The Government is dutybound to be ready to respond and if it gets to that, we will respond appropriate to ensure that the public inconvenience is minimised or eliminated.” He recalled that while conditions existed on December 4, 2014 for the OWTU to strike or Petrotrin to initiate a lockout of its workers, neither scenario played out.

Rowley also announced that today, Finance Minister Colm Imbert will issue “a very firm and clear circular memorandum” to all State Enterprise managers and their boards about failure to submit their companies annual financial statements on time. He said all managers will be required to submit these statements to Imbert by March 31, whether they are audited or not. Rowley said failure to comply with this directive, “would have serious consequences for those who fail to comply.”

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