Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NP fires 68 for participating in illegal strike

NP's acting corporate communications manager Rae Gilbert 

The National Petroleum Marketing Company Limited (NP) on Tuesday fired 68 workers for taking part in what the company said was an illegal strike from August 13-15.

Eighty five workers stopped work in August on the advice of their union, the Oilfield workers' Trade Union (OWTU) to protest what the union said was an attempt by the state-owned fuel distributor to privatise the company.

The action caused panic buying and the company initially suspended the workers with pay while it conducted an investigation and individual disciplinary hearings. 

NP sent the media a statement saying it fired the workers for breach of contract. The company's acting corporate communications manager Rae Gilbert said each workers attended disciplinary hearings from October 7 to 10 at which each of them had an opportunity to respond to three charges:
  1. refusal to perform job functions
  2. participation along with others in an illegal work stoppage
  3. unauthorised absence from work stations
Gilbert noted that strikes caused million-dollar losses for the company. "Over the last two years there have been 20 work stoppages by the OWTU at NP. A single work stoppage equates to $9.5 million in loss of revenue per day to NP,” she said. 

Gilbert said the OWTU justified their illegal strike by stating that the workers had concerns about health and safety issues.

She rejected that, saying that when the workers walked off their jobs the OWTU cited privatisation as the reason for the strike. Gilbert also said in July and September Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) officials visited NP's premises and did not have any issues.

“The company is in receipt of the OSH report which did not trigger the issuance of an improvement or a prohibition notice, as is mandated in cases of serious or imminent danger in accordance with Section 74 of the OSH Act,” Gilbert said.

At the time of the August strike, OWTU’s branch president at NP Port-of-Spain, told reporters the action was to demonstrate concerns over the award of a $394,000 contract to a private company to conduct loading on the gantry.

Wayne Leacock was quoted as saying, “Since the appointment of the chief executive and this board the workers have been fearful for the security of their jobs and their future. 

“The model that the company is taking now is one of outsourcing the jobs and the workers are fearful that they could lose their jobs through outsourcing.” 

Leacock also said NP had breached an industrial agreement by firing two permanent employees at the Pointe-a-Pierre branch who refused to train managers to load trucks at the gantry.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai