Rowley, OWTU clash over money paid to Petrotrin workers

While Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley said that an av­er­age of $.5 mil­lion was paid as sev­er­ance to each Petrotrin work­er when the com­pa­ny was shut down, the Oil­fields Work­ers’ Trade Union (OW­TU) has ac­cused him of dis­tort­ing fig­ures.

Speak­ing at the Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment pub­lic meet­ing at the Pleas­antville Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­tre, San Fer­nan­do on Tues­day night, Row­ley said that “no one was tossed on­to the pave­ment to suf­fer”.

He said tax­pay­ers paid out $2.7 bil­lion to 4,626 work­ers, many of whom have since been em­ployed some­where. He ad­mit­ted though that there were those who were still un­em­ployed.


“But if you do some math­e­mat­ics on that, the av­er­age, if you di­vide $2700 mil­lion be­tween 4,626 work­ers, that is an av­er­age of about half a mil­lion per per­son. But of course, it’s not sim­ple as that.

The high­er-paid per­sons with the longer ser­vice would have got more, which means the low­er-paid peo­ple with the short­er ser­vice would have got less. But the av­er­age for the pool of peo­ple that you paid for, half a mil­lion apiece,” Row­ley said.

He said that of the 4,626 work­ers, 3,400 were per­ma­nent while the re­main­ing 1,226 were ca­su­al and tem­po­rary.

Last year when Petrotrin re­struc­tured, the com­pa­ny’s Board of Di­rec­tors said that 800 would be em­ployed for Ex­plo­ration and Pro­duc­tion op­er­a­tions and an­oth­er 200 to man the ter­mi­nal fa­cil­i­ty.

Pro­vid­ing the cur­rent em­ploy­ment fig­ures, he said that of the 800 po­si­tions to be filled at Her­itage Pe­tro­le­um, 147 peo­ple who were di­rect­ly em­ployed by the com­pa­ny and con­trac­tors ac­count­ed for 534, bring­ing the to­tal count to 681. Of the 200 po­si­tions promised at the Paria Fu­el Trad­ing Com­pa­ny, 129 were hired of which 99 were em­ployed by a con­trac­tor.

But in re­sponse yes­ter­day, OW­TU chief ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer Ozzi War­wick said the Row­ley has again shown his dis­con­nect from re­al­i­ty. War­wick said the state­ments al­so showed no con­cern for the suf­fer­ing of thou­sands of work­ers who are yet to find jobs.

“The Prime Min­is­ter did not men­tion that 3,000 tem­po­rary and ca­su­al work­ers got ab­solute­ly noth­ing. The Prime Min­is­ter did not men­tion that none of the sport club work­ers got noth­ing at all.

He seems very un­con­cern that the young work­ers, who were now start­ing their fam­i­lies, who had mort­gages and loans, got next to noth­ing. So much so that their ve­hi­cles are be­ing re­pos­sessed, some have had to seek help to save their homes and many of them have not got any job for all these months,” War­wick said.

He said the while Row­ley threw out em­ploy­ment fig­ures, War­wick chal­lenged him to show how many were for­mer Petrotrin works.

“You may have hired 681 at Her­itage, but how many were Petrotrin work­ers? Don’t put that out there, give a prop­er break­down and say how many were Petrotrin Work­ers.”

He added that be­cause the gov­ern­ment failed to ho­n­our pay­ment to Petrotrin’s trustee, the bank is threat­en­ing to shut down the pen­sion plan.

Reporter: Kevon Felmine

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