Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 16th 2016 Contents MINISTER RESPONDS
With last year s industrial action forcing
Trinidad Offshore Fabrication Company
(TOFCO) to outsource part of their con-
struction of bpTT s Juniper Platform to a
US firm, protesting workers said they
would rather the company pack up and
In 2015, TOFCO lost 97 days through
industrial unrest and delays in the import
of material, resulting in the company hiring
a Texas company to construct the jacket
and piles for the $2.1 billion Juniper project.
Asked whether workers were afraid of
the entire project being outsourced, mem-
bers of the TOFCO Workers Committee
Clyde Charles said the company should be
replaced if they could not give justice to
"We have taken a position as the La Brea
community and as workers that if Tofco
does not intend to do anything proper for
the community, it is better they pack up
and go, and let somebody else come and
build the same platform that has to be built.
"We are building something that will
benefit the entire nation and we in La Brea
are living under oppressed and depressed
conditions," Charles said.
Action intensified on the second day as
unemployed La Brea residents joined the
protest, blocking the entrance to the La
Brea Industrial Development Company
(LABIDCO) industrial estate. However, when
South Western Division Task Force officers
arrived, the workers gathered near the
entrance of TOFCO
Charles said residents joined the protest
because vacancies at the estate were being
filled by outsiders. He said Tofco and anoth-
er company engaged in upgrading LABID-
CO s port were the prime culprits. Mean-
while, the workers were continuing to
highlight the need for proper safety con-
ditions on the project. With Energy Minister
and La Brea MP Nicole Olivierre refusing
to intervene in the impasse, workers are
now calling on Labour Minister Jennifer
Baptiste-Primus for help.
Mother of two, Dixie-Ann Charles-
Williams, said she was certified in health
and safety and applied five times to a com-
pany upgrading the port and was told that
all vacancies were filled. She said once an
applicant s address was La Brea, vacancies
were not available.
"Give us a chance, we are certified,"
"People have been begging for work in
La Brea, begging for employment with no
answers. Somebody has to stand up for us
now. We need employment. We have ladies
here as single parents. I have two kids and
once I am certified, hire me. People are
getting work on the outside, what about
La Brea proper? What about us? So many
promises before elections and after it is just
a bow tie."
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, January 16, 2016
TOFCO workers say
firm should leave
Labelling the accusations as strange,
Olivierre said none of the funds for the
event came to her so she did not know
which companies sponsored the event.
She maintained that her involvement
was not necessary as MP or minister as
it was an industrial dispute between a
company and its employees.
However, she did get involved by
asking Baptiste-Primus to look into the
workers' concern, saying she was
concerned that part of the project was
"This is a matter between Tofco and
their employees so this is viewed as an
industrial relations matter. This isn't the
community protesting against a
company, it is employees of a company
protesting within the confines of that
location against the company.
"This is why I have stayed out of it
because this is an industrial relations
"I have spoken with the Minister of
Labour about this and I have asked her
to get involved so she will be looking
into it. Neither as the MP or the Energy
Ministry do I have any locus standi
getting into this matter at this stage,"
Angered by Olivierre's refusal to intervene, the
protesters are now questioning her ties to Tofco,
claiming she sourced funds from the companies in
La Brea to host a week of events, including a
beauty pageant under her patronage last year.
Holding up the December 19 copy of the Sunday
Express, which headline read: "NICOLE'S $.3M
BEAUTY ERROR* She solicited contributions for
beauty pageant, other events," Kirk Christopher
called on his MP to clear the air.
According to the article, Tofco was one of the
companies Olivierre wrote to, using her MP's
letterhead. Lake Asphalt (1978) Ltd, Labidco,
Caribbean Gas Chemicals Ltd, Trinidad Generation
Unlimited and Namalco were some of the other
"One of the reasons I believe the minister came
out on national television and said she does not
want to get involved in it per say is because this
article here to me spells, 'something stinks.'
"The very said company we are having the issue
with is the very said company that it is alleged
that she had asked for donations to run some
"If you notice here, the minister blamed
inexperience for making requests for funding from
energy companies to host a pageant. Is it,
honourable minister, that you are saying because
of you dealing with the company asking for
money, that is why you don't want to intervene to
put an end to this madness that is taking place in
La Brea?" Christopher questioned.
WORKERS QUESTION TOFCO TIES
The Juniper offshore gas project is the
construction of bpTT's first normally-unmanned
platform with corresponding subsea infrastructure.
The facility will take gas from the Coralita and
Lantana fields located 50 miles off Trinidad's
southeast coast to the Mahogany B hub via a new
ten kilometre flowline.
This development will include five subsea wells
and will have a production capacity of
approximately 590 million standard cubic feet a day
Juniper will become bpTT's 14th offshore
production facility. Drilling was expected to begin
last year and gas is expected from the facility in
The company said the project was important to
its future as it will assist it in meeting its natural
gas commitments to the market, as well as in
introducing subsea infrastructure to continue the
development of its resources in the Columbus Basin.
Olivierre: I don't know where the funds came from
Workers of Trinidad Offshore Fabrication Company (TOFCO) protest
outside the plant in La Brea yesterday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
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