Free to fire: Injunction lifted against Petrotrin

Trinidad Express:   

PETROTRIN has been successful in its bid to block an injunction that was granted to the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) earlier this week by the Industrial Court.

At 11.30 p.m. last night at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, Justice of Appeal Charmaine Pemberton delivered the ruling in favour of the cash-strapped company.

This came following close to seven hours of submissions from attorneys representing it, the OWTU and the Office of the Attorney General.

The effect of the ruling is that Petrotrin is now free to resume the distribution of termination packages to workers as it moves towards shutting down its operation by the end of next month. But the lifting of the injunction will only last until next Thursday when the substantive appeal over the actual granting of the injunction comes up for hearing before a three-judge Appeal Court panel.

On Monday, Industrial Court president Deborah Thomas-Felix and four other judges unanimously ruled in favour of the union and granted it the injunction pending the hearing and determination of an Industrial Relations Offence (IRO) over the company’s alleged failure to meet with it “in good faith” in prior to making the decision to close the company in August.

This, the union argued, was in violation of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed between it and the company on April 3.

Prior to that ruling, approximately 300 workers were served with their termination packages. The Industrial Court’s order had effectively restrained Petrotrin from:

(i) Terminating or otherwise determining any contract of employment entered into between the company and the members of the bargaining units of which the union is the recognised majority union until the determination of IRO 35 of 2018 or until further order from the court;

(ii) Making any offer for the voluntary separation from employment of any of the workers who may be members of the bargaining units of which the union is the recognised majority union until the determination of IRO 35 of 2018 or until further order from the court;

The OWTU was given until October 15 to file all relevant documents related to the IRO while Petrotrin was given until October 22 to do so.

The hearing of the IRO is set to take place on October 30, 31, and November 1.