Sunday 29 November, 2020

Kamla tells OWTU: We will not be blackmailed into silence

The Opposition has responded to the Oil Field Workers Trade Union's (OWTU) 48-hour ultimatum they were given to say whether they support the claims by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal of underhand dealings in the sale of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

OWTU leader Ancel Roget said he would launch a “major campaign” against Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the UNC if they failed to do so.

In response, Persad-Bissessar said she was not behind the closure of the refinery and blamed Roget and the Movement for Social Justice instead.

“Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the UNC did not close down Petrotrin! Ten thousand permanent, temporary and contracted Petrotrin workers lost their jobs due to the failures of Keith Rowley on one side and the Ancel Roget, David Abdullah tandem on the other side. These men need to acknowledge that they presided over this mess, take responsibility and cease looking for a scapegoat to save face.”

The Opposition Leader further questioned why the unions did not take a similar approach to the Government who closed the refinery.

“Roget and Abdullah gave no ultimatum to Rowley when the PNM closed down the refinery and brought misery to over 10,000 workers and their families." 

"They gave no ultimatum when TSTT, Arcelor Mittal and UTT workers lost their jobs."

"They gave no ultimatum when over 63000 workers lost their jobs over the last four years.”

Persad-Bissesar said while she is not against the OWTU and its workers, any disposal of public property to private sector entities must be done with full transparency. This, as she said Patriotic Energies is a private company.

“Had this transaction been between an entity associated with the UNC and the government or an entity deemed owned by the so-called 1% and the government, both men, as well as the OWTU, would be protesting for transparency and accountability.”

She also accused them of hiding behind threats and allegations as a form of deflection.

“Every individual is responsible for his/her own actions including me. The UNC and I support any transparent and accountable transaction which will give workers ownership rights during the divestment of state assets including any transaction by OWTU members. However, don’t be mistaken, the UNC and I will not be blackmailed by anyone to remain silent on issues of public interest in order to gain support for any election. We are about plans and policies to get our country working again.”

The UNC leader went on to reiterate her budget promise that her government, once elected, will work with stakeholders to swiftly resolve all outstanding issues regarding former Petrotrin workers.

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