Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 28th 2015 Contents A13
Labour Minister Errol McLeod says T&T s repu-
tation of constructing platforms has been spoilt by
the relocation of the bpTT US$2.1 billion Juniper
platform from this country to Texas.
McLeod is pointing fingers at his trade union suc-
cessor Ancel Roget for the $1.2 billion worth of work
T&T has lost to Texas where a portion of the Juniper
platform is now being built and the 300-odd jobs lost
in the process.
In a fiery response, reminiscent of his trade union
days, McLeod said: "Somebody has to be held respon-
sible for that happening. That is against the national
He blamed the move by BP, taking a decision to
relocate the fabrication of the jacket and piles for its
US$2.1 billion Juniper platform which was being built
by Trinidad Offshore Fabricators Unlimited s (Tofco),
on "the arrogance of some leaders.
"Too many people, on the basis of an arrogant inter-
vention by their leadership are being thrown on the
breadline. I don t want to mention other places where
it has happened, because we have some matters before
the court," McLeod said without naming any-
one.The non-unionised Tofco workers sought
the intervention of the Oilfields Workers
Trade Union in their dispute with the com-
pany over wages, terms and condition of
work which resulted in a delay in the proj-
In an interview, McLeod said that was his
greatest regret in the five years he has served
as Minister of Labour.
"I think it is a case of people being misled.
It was a case of particular leaders substituting stu-
pidity for militancy."
McLeod, as part of the inter-ministerial team on
such issues, was mandated by Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar to find a resolution.
He said he spoke to the workers and told them
about the perils of following the dictates of the
union which had no status to negotiate on their
"You organise people on a different basis when
you don t have recognition. You do not go into a
place and just disrupt the workings of that place
without having the credentials to represent the
people in the law."
Nevertheless, he said the workers ignored
his appeal to understand there was a process
to follow and the action embarked upon
would not only affect them but the future of
"We said to the workers, that yard we spent
endless money to build is to provide the kind of
services that multinationals will come here for asso-
ciated with the development of our oil and gas pro-
duction, exploration, new rigs and new platform. That
we have a capability to build these platforms, engage
some of our best craftsman and what you are doing
is spoiling the future."
He recalled being taught by the late legendary CLR
James, that the future is in the present, he tried to
communicate with the workers, "that indeed the future
depends on what we do today.
"And today, we have spoilt our chances for some
time to come to build all of these bits of equipments,
platforms, top deck and I don t know how it is going
to be responded to and I don t want to talk out of
turn, but somebody has to be held responsible for that
happening. That is against the national interest."
Tertiary Education Minister Fazal
Karim said yesterday he was willing to
provide counsellors to assist compulsive
He was speaking to reporters last Friday
after signing a Memorandum of Under-
standing with the Couva Chamber of
Industry and Commerce to assist in job
placement and skills training in the Cen-
Chamber president Liquat Ali, in his
opening remarks, said gambling was
affecting productivity in the workplace.
He said the National Lotteries Control
Board now had four Play Whe draws daily
and workers often spend ten to 15 min-
utes, four times a day, to play a mark.
Calling on the Government to reduce
the number of draws, Ali said: "Gambling
is taking away from the productive
levels of T&T and it is something
we have to address."
He said the agricultural indus-
try was suffering because of a
shortage of skilled and unskilled
labour. Saying the Chamber had
identified 122 vacancies for
employment, Ali said T&T was
experiencing a graduation glut
where qualified professionals
could not find a job to match their
skill set. He also said the labour
shortages were severely hampering
productivity in T&T.
In an immediate response, Karim
said he was willing to launch three
new initiatives to assist in the labour
shortages and the productivity
"I want the NLCB to issue a
training voucher for those who
go to play Lotto and Play Whe.
A lot of people stick around
and wait for the draw. They
don t work and this is their
livelihood. I want to give them
training vouchers to assist with pro-
ductivity. They can present the vouch-
ers to the National Energy Skills Centre
and I will pay for the training," Karim
said. He added that if the various Cham-
bers of Commerce get together to deal
with the negative effects of gambling,
then he was willing to provide trained
counsellors to assist compulsive gam-
Karim also said he wanted to launch
a new initiative called Unskilled to Skilled
(U2S) to help with labour shortages. He
said he was also exploring the possibility
that the PCS Nitrogen Farm could be
used to provide hands-on training for
people interested in agriculture.
Meanwhile, Junior Finance Minister
Rudranath Indarsingh said the Govern-
ment was aware of the socio-economic
effects of the gaming industry, partic-
ularly among young people. He said the
Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control
Bill 2015 would return to Parliament as
soon as the Government secured a new
term in office.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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