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OWTU ready to rumble

Published: 
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
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Members of the trade union movement and other interest groups on the route during this morning's three-day protest march. Photo by:Rishi Ragoonath

“Get ready to rumble.”

This was the signal by Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget as he led hundreds of Petrotrin workers on a historic three-day protest march to save the jobs of 4,800 oil workers.

The march, dubbed the “Mother of All Marches,” started just 30 minutes before the OWTU, led by their attorney Douglas Mendes SC, was expected to present their case to the Industrial Court to halt Petrotrin’s retrenchment exercise. That matter was eventually adjourned to tomorrow.

It was the first time in decades that oil and sugar union members had held hands in unity as the OWTU was joined by the All Trinidad General Workers' Trade Union and its president Nirvan Maharaj. Public Service Association president Watson Duke, Congress of the People political leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and Movement for Social Justice leader David Abdulah also joined.

The march is expected to take place over three days, with today’s leg spanning from the just outside Petrotrin refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre to the Rienzi Complex, Couva.

Speaking at the Pointe-a-Pierre roundabout, Roget said the march is aimed at arousing and attracting those citizens who are unaware of the importance of Petrotrin to the nation. He said Government was anti-labour and was going through this process to decimate the trade union movement. He said along the way, the union will be raising all the issues relating to Petrotrin and the overall governance of the country. He said this sacrifice was being made for the benefit of T&T and future generations to come.

“This dagger that was aimed straight at the heart of the trade union movement, we, first of all, want the population to know that it is an attempt to destroy the OWTU and destroy the trade union movement. As we proceed along the route from this spot at the Pointe-a-Pierre Roundabout to Port-of-Spain over the three-day period, we will be raising awareness with respect to Petrotrin and other pertinent governance issues that impact on our nation.”

He said the OWTU has already claimed victory in the name of God, saying they will prove that the Government is lying and that Petrotrin can be made into a profitable company without the harsh measures that are being put in place.

Roget said the leaders of the march will not return home until it is completed, as they will be camping in Couva and Aranguez, San Juan. Tomorrow’s leg is expected to start in Couva and end in Aranguez. Friday’s leg will start in Aranguez and end in Port-of-Spain. The march caused a major traffic pile-up along the Southern Main Road from Marabella to Claxton Bay.

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