T&T is now 56 years old as an independent nation but there is nothing to celebrate today, as the country’s leadership is plunging the lives of 45,000 citizens into chaos with the decision to close the Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery. This is the view of Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget, who yesterday vowed that Petrotrin will be saved but the ruling People’s National Movement Government will “be no more” as the union plans a major fight back. At a media conference at the OWTU’s Paramount Building headquarters in San Fernando, Roget said the Petrotrin board was not telling the truth, as their plan is to shut down the entire company and hire 800 employees to operate its revamped Exploration and Production (E&P) operation. On Tuesday, Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet announced the discontinuation of the company’s Refining and Marketing operation, which signalled the closure of the 101-year-old refinery. Espinet said this meant 1,700 permanent and casual workers would be retrenched. Yesterday, Roget said on Tuesday the board presented three slides to the union, which was the same thing they presented to the Cabinet, which led to the approval to shut down the refinery. The slides contained three scenarios: Continue business as usual, retrench 1,500 workers or transform the financial performance of the company with a workforce reduction of 2,400. He said those three slides were presented to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, as opposed to the union’s comprehensive plan for the company’s turnaround that was previously submitted to the board. He said it was on the basis of that plan the union signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Petrotrin in April to establish a working committee to oversee and implement the restructuring of the company. But he said the union believed it was hoodwinked by the company as no meetings of the committee was ever held. Breaking down the figures yesterday, Roget said it would not, in fact, be 1,700 workers being retrenched but all 3500 permanent employees. “They are moving swiftly ahead to implement the scenario wherein the upstream operation, to exit fully, 1,700 workers and in the downstream, which is the refinery, another 1,700 workers. While they tell you something else, their proposal, in summary, is to send home all of the workers in Petrotrin and rehire some 800 workers. Then shut down the refinery, open some ‘terminalling’ operation and hire 200,” Roget said. With the number of vacancies currently existing, which are filled by casual and temporary employment on a rotational basis, he said an additional 2,000 people will be affected. An estimated 3,500 employees who work on a rotation for contractors of Petrotrin will also feel the pinch, he said. With an estimated 9,000 employees expected to be affected, Roget said workers’ families must be added to the mix, resulting in a figure of 45,000. He also stressed that the economy in the southern part of the island will be impacted, including the maxi taxi drivers, doubles vendors, shops and stores. Sports and cultural development, which Petrotrin once sponsored, will also take a hit.