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Rowley, Roget to meet Tuesday

Published: 
Sunday, August 19, 2018

Despite the war of words between Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget, the two are scheduled to meet this Tuesday to discuss the anticipated restructuring of Petrotrin. Based on correspondence between the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the OWTU, Rowley and seven members of the union are expected to meet at the Prime Minister’s office in St Clair.

During the PNM’s Family and Sports Day in Chaguanas last week Sunday, Rowley responded to a call by Roget for Petrotrin workers to gather outside the Prime Minister’s official residence in St Ann’s next Sunday to kneel and pray for the debt-riddled Petrotrin. “Don’t threaten me,” was Rowley’s response, adding that he had no quarrel with Roget, whom he had invited for talks.

“He refused to speak to me as Prime Minister. He preferred to stand on the pavement and shout, and I understand he is coming to kneel down outside the Prime Minister’s residence and to march,” Rowley said.

But this caused major contention for the OWTU as Roget accused Rowley of being a liar, saying that the PM never invited him for talks.

The OWTU leader, in a media conference last Tuesday, described Rowley’s remarks at the Family and Sports Day as “the ranting of a desperate man” who was unqualified, incompetent, and inexperienced for the job he has and was desperate, deceitful, ungrateful, and lazy”.

“I challenge him to tell me the date and time he had spoken and requested to meet with me,” Roget said. Based on correspondence sent to the media yesterday, five days after Rowley’s statement, Permanent Secretary in the office of the Prime Minister Maurice Suite sent a letter to Roget under the subject:

Request for a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss matters related to the restructuring of the Petroleum Company of T&T. The letter stated: “I have been asked by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley to invite you and up to six members of the OWTU to a meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister, 13-15 St Clair Avenue, Port-of-Spain on Tuesday, 21 August 2018 at 10.30 am.”

In a response written on the same day, addressed directly to Rowley, Roget accepted the invitation and informed that the names of his accompanying officers would be submitted by tomorrow. Calls to Roget’s phone yesterday were unanswered.

While the OWTU had not admitted that it supported the PNM in the 2015 election, Roget was adamant that the People’s Partnership government had to be voted out. In 2015, the OWTU met with Rowley, then opposition leader, and signed a Memorandum of Agreement with regards to labour policies. The OWTU also met with the Independent Labour Party. In 2016, the OWTU’s vice president Carlton Gibson was the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (Fitun) representative on the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC). However, labour leaders soon withdrew from the NTAC, claiming disrespect by the Government.

Since then Roget has been criticising the Government, especially Rowley, for their handling of the country. During this year’s annual Labour Day Rally in Fyzabad, he gave the Government a failing grade for its handling of crime, the economy, labour, health, and education.

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