PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Lawyers for the state-owned oil company, PETROTRIN, have filed an appeal against an injunction granted to the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) by the Industrial Court earlier this week.
According to the Trinidad Express, Just 24 hours after it was restrained by the Industrial Court from terminating the 5,000 of its employees and cease operation by the end of next month, State-owned Petrotrin has taken the legal battle brought against it to the next level.
Late Tuesday evening, the company filed its appeal at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, challenging the ruling handed down by Industrial Court president Deborah Thomas-Felix and four other judges on Monday, the Express said.
The appeal has been deemed urgent and was scheduled to be heard in Chamber by the Appeal Court in the Hall of Justice at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Industrial Court on Monday also dismissed a stay of its ruling as had been sought by the company and the lawyers representing the Attorney General’s Office.
The OWTU said it had filed the injunction preventing the company from sending home its workers, accusing it of breaching an industrial relations offence outlined in the April 3, 2018, Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that outlined restructuring the company over an 18-month period and to form a working committee.
But in its notice of appeal filed in the Court of Appeal late Tuesday, the lawyers for the company outlined 15 grounds for challenging the Industrial Court ruling.
PETROTRIN is claiming that the Industrial Court had no jurisdiction to act, as the industrial relations offence complaint filed by the union is a criminal offence that does not lend itself to injunctive relief. The company is also claiming that the Industrial Court erred when it ruled the company had a duty to consult with the union.
“Having found that an employer has a right to close down its business/operations, the Industrial Court erred in law and/or exceeded its jurisdiction in finding that an employer is obligated to consult with the recognised majority union before deciding to close down its business/operations,” the company said in its notice of appeal.
It is also contending that the Industrial Court failed to fully consider its and the Office of the Attorney General’s evidence over the impact of PETROTRIN continued operation on the national economy.
No date has yet been set for hearing the matter.
The OWTU had claimed that the MOA also paved the way for PETROTRIN to be divided into four entities and that the committee would address, resolve and agree on the four organisational structures, work processes, skills, competencies and manpower requirements which would make the company internationally competitive and ensure its survival, sustainability and profitability.
Both parties also agreed to a timetable for meetings starting in April 2018 with the enhancement of operational efficiencies, reduction of waste and the promotion of the company’s business. – CMC