OWTU protest outside PM’s residence for health, pension benefits for ex-Petrotrin workers

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A Petrotrin retiree at the protest. – AYANNA KINSALE

Members of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) protested outside the official residence of the Prime Minister on Sunday afternoon, calling for the reinstatement of their pension and medical plans.

The protest comes months after the union hand delivered a letter to the Office of the Prime Minister at Whitehall in Port of Spain, detailing the plight of retirees after Petrotrin was shut down in 2018.

At the protest, OWTU president general Ancel Roget called on the Prime Minister to hear the cries of the ex-workers.

OTWU president general Ancel Roget (right) and OWTU education officer Ozzie Warwick during a protest outside the PM’s official residence at La Fantasie Road, St Ann’s on Sunday. – AYANNA KINSALE

“You would have taken away from the retirees a provision that they were entitled to through their terms and conditions of employment. The net effect of taking that away is that retirees continue to suffer and die without the provision of the required medical check ups and so on.”

Roget said the Augustus Long, Pointe-a-Pierre hospital should be reopened to care for the retirees who, he said, contributed billions of dollars to the country through their work prior to the closing of the refinery and are now suffering with ailments such as cancer and joint pains.

A police officer keeps watch over the protest on Sunday. – AYANNA KINSALE

The protesters brought with them an effigy of Rowley which has become part of their protests. They marched in a circle to the entrance of the St Ann’s residence chanting, “We will keep on struggling until Rowley goes away” to the melody of Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Roget added: “Our retirees have not only run out of patience, they’ve run out of medical care entirely, and the union would have written to the PM by letter dated March 25. It took some four weeks to get a response. And when that response came, it did not even come from the Prime Minister himself. He did not even have the respect to those who would have produced for the country to respond himself.”