PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – President of the Oilfield Workers Union (OWTU), Ancel Roget, Tuesday accused Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley of seeking to “change the conversation” over the situation regarding the state of the local economy as well as the plans to reform the state-owned oil company, PETROTRIN.
“He is in a job for which clearly the country recognises he is not qualified, competent or have experience,” Roget told reporters as he responded to a weekend statement by Rowley that he would not be threatened by the union leader.
Rowley, addressing the Family Day of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) on Sunday, said that he offered to meet with the OWTU leader but that invitation was refused.
“As Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, I am telling the population for the first time that I invited the leader of the OWTU to come speak to me, he refused. He refused to speak to me as Prime Minister,” Rowley said, “he preferred to stand on the pavement and shout and I understand he is coming to kneel down outside the Prime Minister’s residence to march.
“I want to say to the leader of the OWTU I have no quarrel with you but get your facts straight. The house in St Ann’s is not my house,’ Rowley said as he commented on Roget’s call for workers to gather outside the Prime Minister’s official residence at St Ann’s on August 26 to kneel and pray for PETROTRIN.
“The house at St Ann’s is a Government office and those of us who work 24 hours a day work at the back of that house. And if I too was getting TT$100,000 for doing nothing I would walk around the country and kneel down too.
“But let me say to the workers of PETROTRIN, as I said to the leader of the OWTU, don’t threaten me. I will not be threatened because I am not in fear of losing any election,” Rowley said.
Roget told reporters that Rowley faced with the problems and challenges of governing the country “his only response was to try to obfuscate and to change the conversation, but we will not allow that to happen”
Roget told reporters that Rowley was telling untruths to the population and that the government wanted to silence the trade union.
“This trade union we will not be silenced by anybody at all,” he said, insisting that he had never received an invitation from the prime minister to meet, but was instead still awaiting a response from Rowley to a letter sent to him by the union.
“We wrote to the prime minister. To date we have neither had an acknowledgment nor a response to that letter. That is disrespect to the three labour federations in the country,” he said.
Last week, Roget said that PETROTRIN workers would assemble outside the official residence of the Prime Minister on August 26 “to kneel down and pray.
“We are going to pray for PETROTRIN, for the jobs of the workers. We are going to pray for Trinidad and Tobago. We going to pray for God to give the correct people to run PETROTRIN. We are going to pray for the right thing to happen.
“Sunday, August 26 put your house in order, not a working day, nobody could discipline you. You have the power in your hands use it. All PETROTRIN workers, Sunday, August 26, at 3 pm, travel to Port-of-Spain, maxi, taxi, bicycle, scooter, bus, CRV, donkey, horse whatever transport you use, find yourself at La Fantasie at the residence of the Prime Minister,” Roget said.
He warned that if the present PETROTRIN chairman, Wilfred Espinet, is not removed he would be making an announcement on the way forward. – CMC