The Oil Workers Trade Union (OWTU), affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union in Trinidad & Tobago, has won the reinstatement of 68 National Petroleum Marketing Company Limited (NP) employees who were dismissed in 2013. The company has complied with a court order following a three-year campaign by the union.
“Justice and victory for National Petroleum workers!” chanted the workers on hearing the news that the Trinidad High Court in Port of Spain had ruled in their favour.
In October 2013, NP dismissed 68 employees for joining a strike. In 2014, the High Court ordered the company to reinstate the workers, pay them the wages that were due to them, and $40,000 in compensation. However, the company refused to comply with ruling.
Finally, on 24 March, the Labour Court ruled that the dismissals were “harsh, oppressive and inconsistent with good labour relations practice”. On 29 March, the workers returned to their posts, accompanied by the OWTU president, Ancel Roget, and other trade union leaders.
"When you go back to work, the company may try to provoke you and set traps for you...So you must be very careful and very aware that the price of freedom is constant vigilance," said Roget to the workers on the day they returned to their workplace, according to reports by Newsday.
The company says it is ready to reinstate the workers and that it will take responsibility for their “reconciliation and reintegration”, by implementing a program to ensure they make a successful return to the company.
Commenting on this victory IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary, Fernando Lopes, said:
Workers throughout the world need unions like the OWTU to counter the arbitrary behaviour of companies.