PORT OF SPAIN – The actions of a mentally ill man who jumped a fence and died in a tank of oil at a Petrotrin facility in Point Fortin last week, has led to more than 5,000 workers walking off the job, effectively shutting down the country’s most important revenue generating resource.
Petrotrin’s operations were shut down at midnight, with the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) calling for a thorough investigation into how Point Fortin resident, Curtis Pierre, breached security and entered the facility.
OWTU president general Ancel Rogel also called for the removal of the company’s chief security officer while the investigation is being conducted.
Addressing a mass of workers outside Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery on Thursday morning, Roget said, “If the country has to suffer for the country to realise that we have bad management in Petrotrin, let the country suffer.”
He said the public should be made aware of the nature of the breach in security.
Roget said although the company had launched an investigation, the chief security officer was still on duty.
He said the company had reduced security at all locations by 50 per cent. And he warned that should workers decide to take strike action, not only Petrotrin but the entire country would come to a standstill.
Roget said the trade union was prepared to “ramp up” protest action. And he called on the line minister to take action.
Neil Derrick, Petrotrin’s vice president human resources and corporate services said an investigation began immediately after the company was alerted that Pierre had trespassed in one of its installations at Trinmar operations tank farm.
He said following a meeting with the OWTU who raised concerns and a new investigation was commenced.
Derrick said, “The union has also announced that they are going to take action across the company. This, they said, have been spurred by Petrotrin refusing to move the chief security officer after the death of Curtis Pierre who trespassed on one of our installations, the Trinmar operations tank farm. We met with the OWTU on Monday 17 and agreed that since they were concerned about the process that we will do a new investigation and we will not have the CSO (chief security officer) sit in the position of CSO while the investigation is going on. We left with what I thought was an agreement.”
Derrick said the CSO was moved and an administrator placed in the position.
The acting CSO was assigned a project to review the company’s vulnerability assessment, especially the facilities close to communities, he said.
Derrick said the acting CSO was also asked to look generally at the security plan as raised by the trade union.
“The union expressed dissatisfaction yesterday with respect to the communication. They said they were of the view that if the CSO was going to be involved in that process, it meant he was going to be investigating himself. We have sort to clear that up, we have explained to the union that that is not so,” he said.
Derrick said the company had written to the Ministry of National Security seeking an independent party in the investigations.
“We hoped we would put that team together by today (and) start that investigation as we promised the union on Monday. We remain very concerned especially since we have low oil prices and low product prices,” he said.
Two Saturdays ago, Pierre, of Pt Ligoure, Point Fortin, climbed on top of one of the company’s oil storage tanks at its Point Fortin facility and despite attempts by his family and company counsellors, he refused to come down, and jumped inside.
A week-long recovery operation was conducted and Pierre’s decomposing body was found at the bottom of the tank.
He was laid to rest on Wednesday.