PORT OF SPAIN –– It was the shortest strike in the history of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU).
This is according to OWTU labour relations officer, Foster Carrington, who addressed oil workers gathered at a strike camp outside Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery today.
The strike action took effect at around 10 a.m.
An hour later, Carrington said, there was a sense of victory as the OWTU executive and Petrotrin management remained locked in discussions at the Ministry of Labour in Port of Spain.
By the hundreds, workers began walking out of the company’s gates and gathered outside Petrotrin’s administration building.
Carrington said, “It would be recorded as the shortest strike in the history of the OWTU. In 1989 we had a one day strike. This strike took the grand prize away from the naysayers. Those who were planning to undermine the union have failed. No violence, commitment, loyal and faithful commitment.”
He said, however, that the strike proved that Petrotrin’s management had failed.
“There is a need to change the management structure of the company. We have to focus on a leadership and management would be for the people, of the people and by the people,” he said.
Despite word that both parties had reached an agreement the workers were advised to remain at the strike camp to be addressed by OWTU president general Ancel Roget.
The strike was called off as the trade union accepted an offer of five per cent and a mandate to conclude negotiations by February 28.
The OWTU had earlier rejected an interim offer of a three per cent wage increase for the period 2011 to 2014.
On Sunday, the Minister of Labour, Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, met with representatives of the executive of OWTU led by Roget and the negotiating team of Petrotrin led by president, Fitzroy Harewood, to continue conciliation talks between the two parties. These talks were adjourned at 4:30 p.m. to allow both parties to attend the Industrial Court to continue conciliation proceedings on the collective bargaining period 2011- 2014. Discussions resumed at 7 p.m. and continued until 2 p.m. today.
Both parties are also in conciliatory discussions for the period 2014 to 2017.
The OWTU served strike notice on Petrotrin on Wednesday. Roget stated that the Finance Minister had until 10 a.m. today to settle the outstanding negotiations or face strike action.