Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 20th 2014 Contents BG12 FEEDBACK
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt NOVEMBER 2014 • WEEK THREE
For Port-of-Spain office and San Fernando offices.
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Office Hours: 7.00 a.m - 2.30 p.m/7.30 a.m - 3.30 p.m.
Bob Gopee and Associates
53 Picton Street, Newtown, P.O.S.
The critics of the Cable & Wireless Communications
acquisition of Flow are out in earnest. But have these detrac-
tors taken an equitable look at the background?
There may well be consequent loss of jobs, but where
did the present employment originate?
In the early 1990s, investors came to an economy still
in a downturn, built infrastructure and launched cable com-
panies. These risky investments were eventually successful,
and after series of mergers/takeovers Flow became the sole
There are now perhaps 100,000 subscribers to Flow.
Technicians were trained, then sent out bit by bit to all
corners of the country to install a box and connecting lines
in each location. And do it all over more than once as tech-
nology, including digital advanced. The head office needed
support staff. Vehicles were purchased. Buildings were
leased. These are just some of the contributions made to
Cable provided our citizens with previously unavailable
access to real time world events and commentaries, as well
high-quality documentary programming in science, history,
geography, to name just a few.
The shareholders of Flow then made further investments
in broadband and land lines, all creating more direct and
In 1990, there was no one employed in cable. Did the
social economists sing the praises of the employment created
by these entrepreneurs?
A dim view of monopoly, or perhaps duopoly, has also
been put forward. But every type of business began as a
monopoly. Were there critics when the first editor printed
the first edition of a newspaper? No, others waited in eager-
ness to step in if the risk proved worthwhile. And the same
here as Flow, having firmly established the industry's prof-
itability, now has two competitors. Yet no one knows what
the future holds for cable, as streaming services become
popular, and the computer takes the place of the TV.
I am by no means taking the side of conglomerates. But
each company, no matter how huge, is owned by real people
who are entitled to seek the best return for their investment.
If this means that Cable and Wireless deems expansion into
Trinidad a wise investment, then we trust that any separated
employees will be treated fairly. And the modern still expand-
ing hi-tech world is replete with opportunities for our well
trained, diligent, intelligent, and educated citizens.
This is in response to an article in the November 13
Business Guardian in which it is stated that "increase
in oil production will not happen unless the companies
are prepared to drill deep into the Cretaceous." No rea-
sons were advanced to support this statement.
There is no technical basis to support the statement
that oil production will only increase with Cretaceous
drilling and, in this regard, the following should be
1. The Cretaceous is the least attractive among the
exploration opportunities in Trinidad with the lowest
probability (<10 per cent) of finding commercial hydro-
2. Of the approximately 70 Cretaceous penetrations
in Trinidad, the few wells which justified a test produced
non-commercial heavy oil (one offshore well produced
non-commercial gas and condensate).
Unlike the Cretaceous, the exploration opportunities
in the shallower mid Miocene Herrera sandstone reser-
voirs offer the best chances of finding significant new
oil. These prospects are low- to medium-risk oppor-
tunities because of the proximity to major production,
the ability to define the prospects with some degree
of confidence and the very high probability of finding
It should be noted that the Herrera sandstones are
the major exploration targets in the three onshore blocks
which are the subject of the recent land bid round.
The obligatory work programme on these blocks includes
12 exploration wells and seismic. This intense exploration
effort has a good chance of finding significant new oil.
The acreage in the land bid round had been idle for
several years until the Ministry of Energy and Petrotrin
conceptualised and executed a very successful bid
round for the acreage. This is an achievement which
deserves much praise rather than criticism which
belittles the effort.
Contract workers employed with the
Government of T&T are being exploited.
Despite promises of three-year con-
tracts from the Ministry of Public Admin-
istration, several contracts remain on
short-term from one month to two years
rendering employees extremely stressed,
demotivated and at a disadvantage.
During the opening of the Industrial
Court on St Vincent Street, Port-of-
Spain, for the 2013/2014 law term, the
president of the Industrial Court, Deborah
Thomas-Felix, indicated that a person
on contract in the public sector is not
considered a public servant and hence is
at an obvious disadvantage because he/she
is not "considered to be a worker within
the meaning of the Industrial Relations
Act of T&T" (Ramdass, 2013).
She also informed that individuals on
short-term contracts could not open bank
accounts and apply for mortgages "due
to the very short duration of their
Of course, the caveat of her speech
was that there were many people living
with much uncertainty about the sus-
tainability of their incomes, livelihood
and their very existence. This sounds like
a lot of hopeless people living in T&T to
Other distressful issues that contract
workers are facing are as follows:
• Contract workers in travelling posi-
tions have stopped receiving their meagre
transport allowance ($1,500) while their
counterparts who were hired through
Service Commission receive double that
transport allowance after they calculate
their mileage. Is this equality and fairness?
• The gratuity promised at the end of
the contract period takes years to be paid,
but yet interest is not added to the lump
sum which we would have gotten if it
was placed in a retirement fund right
• Certain ministries are making workers
sign a document stating that he/she has
to repay the ministry/Government if the
person is overpaid! This policy is so
As a contract worker, I am asking a
trade union to take up these burning
issues of contract workers since we form
a large part of the workforce.
A union for contract workers
least profitable for T&T
has come far
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