Editorial

Petrotrin’s Big Mess

Petrotrin’s Big Mess

Tea has been spilled.

Petrotrin is getting ready to close up shop this Friday, and the most antagonizing aspect of this entire move, has always been a perceived lack of transparency. Different bits of information were given by different entities at different times, creating a swirling pot of confusion and uncertainty. The most recent concern pertains to the Petrotrin Employees Pension Plan. The trustee, Republic Bank, had earlier expressed concern that the Fund would not be able to honour its commitments.

This prompted the Energy Minister to issue a statement. And that statement came during a Senate sitting. The Minister said the PEPP has comfortably enough assets to cover benefit payments well into the 2040’s, but he did admit that it’s too early in the game to speak beyond that point. Republic Bank has since responded, by threatening to wind up the plan, should Petrotrin fail to address several issues, which include a prediction that the fund would be “exhausted” in the next 23 years. The bank also said that unfunded liabilities would be approximately $4 billion. So needless to say, the Pension Plan situation remains on a knife’s edge and is far from stable.

The most damning part though, is an alleged admission from a top official, that the Minister had conveyed misinformation. At a media conference on Tuesday, OWTU President Ancel Roget claimed that Petrotrin’s Chairman himself “agreed by implication” that the Energy and Finance Ministers had conveyed misinformation.

So the question remains: what is the truth? What is the true status of the Pension Fund? Is what Mr Roget said accurate? Workers have already been forced to accept that their jobs are gone and the company is shutting down. But to play politics and word games with what is due to them, is unacceptable. And that applies to all entities – management, government and the union. Each wants to prove that they know best, while the workers themselves are caught in the middle. One can barely imagine the psychological stress that comes from not knowing what is going on with these benefits that many will have to rely on in the future. This is turning out to be perhaps the biggest mess at Petrotrin yet.

Web Master

November 28th, 2018

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