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OWTU’s restructuring plan rejected by the government

6 November, 2020IndustriALL affiliate OWTU in Trinidad and Tobago is calling for a review of their proposal to restart a national oil refinery after the government rejects it in favour of private capital.

Since Trinidad and Tobago’s state-owned oil company Petrotrin closed in November 2018 due to restructuring, IndustriALL affiliate OWTU has been pushing to avoid the refinery going into private ownership, saying that would be tantamount to giving up sovereignty over natural resources.

In September 2019, the government selected Patriotic, owned by OWTU, as the preferred bidder among 77 other international bidders for the sale of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

However, at a press conference on 31 October, Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Energy, Franklin Khan said that Patriotic’s final proposal does not meet the requirements and that it will resume operations with private capital.

“I regret to say that Patriotic’s final proposal does not address the outstanding issues that could lead to the signing of a contractual agreement. (…) The government is committed to restarting the refinery with private capital injections, understanding that it will have a significant impact on the economy and employment, and will act expeditiously to do so,”

the minister said.

The union is asking to continue negotiations on their proposal.

OWTU president Ancel Roget says that Khan’s announcement took them by surprise, but the union will not give up and requested that the proposal be objectively reviewed and evaluated.

“We humbly request that our latest proposal be presented to an independent committee appointed by the cabinet. We want it to thoroughly scrutinize all areas to determine if we have fallen short or meet all the requirements. We confidently say that we fulfill them all.”

He proposed to return to the negotiating table, saying that Patriotic could obtain the assets for the benefit of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

IndustriALL regional secretary Marino Vani, says:

“We call on the government to give priority to national partners rather than the international market. We believe that Patriotic’s proposal is the only option that reinforces sovereignty, industrial sustainability and income distribution for future generations of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. The option for private capital is short-term gain for long-term pain.”