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Labour Minister calls in Petrotrin president

VERNE BURNETT Friday, January 6 2017

TALKS between the Minister of Labour Jennifer Baptiste-Primus and the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) will resume this morning at eight o’clock at the ministry’s office, Level six, Tower C at the International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road in Port of Spain. The two sides got together at 1.30 pm yesterday, but after two and a half hours, union officials emerged to say that the talks had been adjourned to this morning.

OWTU President General Ancel Roget said that yesterday’s meeting did not get to the “cut and thrust” of the issues because of the absence of the President of the State oil company Petrotrin Fitzroy Harewood. Roget said that the Minister summoned Harewood to appear at which time the discussions will continue. He said there were very cordial exchanges and the union continues to hold out hope (that a strike will be averted) but it will examine all possibilities as they are presented today.

“We are very hopeful that at some point not too long from now, these matters ought to be resolved. But we continue to insist that we need to treat the workers who provide this invaluable service to the nation with some level of respect,” Roget said. He added that what is necessary at this stage is dialogue from those who claim to have the authority to hold discussions with the union.

“It is wrong to tell those who are discussing with us that you don’t have the authority but then not discuss with us. So a line has been opened through the Minister of Labour for those discussions and we expect that response to our request for dialogue to take place and therefore get into many different permutations at the end of the day should bring about a resolution, but you can’t have no talks and silence which was what was causing the aggravation earlier on.” Despite this, Roget said the union was very hopeful given the fact that lines had been opened and there were going to be discussions “and with our extending that invitation to dialogue that the government will respond in a responsible manner and that will be met with a responsible response coming from the union.” On Wednesday, the union served strike notice to Petrotrin after salary negotiations broke down.



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