Roget: Publish Paria, NiQuan accident reports

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Allanlane Ramkissoon –

JTUM President Ancel Roget was applauded by fellow trade union leaders on Tuesday when he demanded that the Government publicise the reports of the accidental deaths of workers at the NiQuan plant and Paria pipeline both at Pointe-a-Pierre.

He was addressing a briefing at the Communication Workers Union (CWU) office in Port of Spain.

In a June 15, 2023 fire at NiQuan, worker Allanlane Ramkissoon died from burns, while in February 2022 divers Rishi Nagassar, Kazim Ali Jr, Fyzal Kurban and Yusuf Henry died after being sucked into an undersea pipeline.

The Government has said it was examining the Paria commission of inquiry report before deciding how to proceed, while saying the NiQuan report was the property of NiQuan and also claimed the report was sub judice presumably owing to NiQuan’s lawsuit of the Government over a curtailed gas supply following the fire.

Roget strongly refuted the notion the NiQuan report belonged to the company.

“That is absurd! And we reject that out of hand.”

He said the NiQuan plant was located on the Petrotrin premises owned by the taxpayers of TT.

“The people of TT are entitled to know the nature of that accident, the cause of that accident and to peruse that report.

“We demand the release of that (NiQuan) report and also the report on the inquiry into the death of the four innocent divers in Paria Fuel Trading Company.

“We demand that report and no redacting of that report. We demand the full report, the whole blinking market, to be released, so everybody would know where they went wrong.”

Colleagues applauded.

He added, “And further we call for criminal charges to be brought to bear on all of those found culpable in that report, in terms of (alleged) neglect, criminal negligence.”

Roget accused the Government of acting like a class bully who stole classmates’ lunch money by imposing the property tax.

He said it was the wrong time to bring the tax, when many people were unemployed and facing rises in their electricity bills. Roget also urged a fresh formula to calculate property tax owed.

Rejecting the use of a property’s annual rentable value to calculate the tax owed, he said, “The formula they are using is wrong and punitive to poor people.”

Asked about the state of the mothballed former Petrotrin refinery, and about the temporarily shut Atlantic LNG Train One, Roget said, “You can see absolute neglect. It will deteriorate very, very quickly.”

Reporters asked about a law where trade unions which reject the Government’s four per cent wage-hike offer are banned for ten years from seeking an increase.

He said unions are challenging this rule. He alleged unions had been badgered to accepted the four per cent, although he said they were entitled to much more .

Roget lamented the non-reappointment of Industrial Court former president Deborah Felix-Thomas after her term’s expiry.

He asked aloud if that was how the president was treated, what would happen to individuals with cases to be heard?

Earlier, he rejected recent figures citing the country’s rate of unemployment and food price inflation, saying those were not in line with what ordinary people were experiencing first-hand.

In general, Roget advised everyone in TT to join a union to champion their employment rights.