The Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) remains "totally unimpressed" with the changes announced by the Government with respect to the subsidiary companies of former Petrotrin—Heritage Petroleum Company and Trinidad Petroleum Holdings— the union says in a release.
The OWTU released the statement following the firing of Wilfred Espinet from Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd. Espinet, who led the closure of the Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery and the rebranding of Petrotrin, has now been replaced by Michael Quamina as the chairman of the Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Limited. Energy Minister Franklin Khan made the announcement on Thursday at the Post-Cabinet News Briefing.
Government also ended its contract with ill Heritage CEO Mike Wiley.
The OWTU questioned the new appointments.
“The question must now be asked: on what basis was Michael Quamina appointed to chair TPHL and Heritage? On what basis was Newman George appointed to the Board of Heritage and to chair both Paria and Guaracara? In this regard, it is our opinion that the only qualification these men possess is that one is the Prime Minister’s personal attorney and the other is a personal friend.
"How can they increase oil production? This is nepotism at its highest and will categorically not address the urgent need to increase crude production. It is only going further down the wrong road and will fail in the recovery of a decimated company.”
The OWTU also criticised the “fiasco” surrounding Wylie.
“The Minister of Energy, Franklyn Khan stated that Mike Wylie will be out for another six months and at the end of that time he will be evaluated to determine if he can return. Whilst he is away an interim CEO will run the company. However, this was immediately followed by the Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, saying the opposite—that there will be an immediate replacement for Wylie.
"We note with disgust that this is not the first time that Minister Khan misled the population. This again calls into question his honesty and credibility. We all remember his lies about there being no indigenous capacity to run a refinery of that complexity, his expressed preference for a particular bidder and so many other untruths."
The OWTU added that the decision to close Petrotrin was taken in haste and it should have never happened.
"We also maintain that the only reason why the Government closed Petrotrin was an attempt to destroy the OWTU. Today we feel vindicated as the company continues to collapse before our eyes with more chaos and confusion to come. Unfortunately, this means the country will feel the inescapable, disastrous consequences of the worst decision ever taken with respect to Petrotrin, or any state enterprise," the OWTU said.
The union concluded by saying that the “Petrotrin story” is far from over.
"It is clear that the government remains clueless, continues to contradict itself and misleads the population on this Petrotrin issue. Unfortunately, this does not bring any relief to the pain and suffering of the 4,500 fired permanent workers, 3,000 casual workers, and over 45,000 people affected by the decision to close Petrotrin. In addition, it certainly does not mitigate in any way its impact on the country’s economy and the wider national community. The OWTU maintains that the Perotrin story is far from over!"