Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 12th 2017 Contents BG4 | COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt JANUARY 12 • 2017
bargaining to the table
Labour consultant Robert Giusep-
pi says new forms of collective
bargaining need to be developed
to deal with the contemporary
economy and how modern com-
"There are different aspects to industrial
relations including the social, economic and
political. There must be a new approach not
only in how Petrotrin and Oilfields Workers'
Trade Union (OWTU) negotiate but labour
relations in general in the country. It is more
than just wages and a percentage increase they
should be looking at. The employer must look
at productivity bargaining, they must also look
at entitlements like vacation leave and use all of
this during negotiations," he told the Business
Guardian on Friday.
On Monday, the OWTU and Petrotrin settled
at 5 per cent for two years of a three-year col-
lective agreement after the trade union took the
country to the brink of a strike at the region's
only oil refinery.
The oil union had originally threatened to
take strike action if their demands were not
While many citizens on social media and
other sectors criticised the wages of Petro-
trin workers as being higher than others in the
country, Giuseppi believes workers at Petrotrin
are entitled to the wages they earn because of
the profitable nature of their industry.
"If workers are in an industry where billions
of dollars flow---whether it be oil, gas or the
technology sector---then they are entitled to the
wages based on the profitability of that sector.
No one can argue that workers in high-profit
industries should not be entitled to the gains
of those sectors," he told the Business Guardian
Giuseppi also said a company's management
must also make sacrifices when the compa-
ny is unprofitable as in Petrotrin's case but
also argued when a company moves from a
loss to profit there must be the concomitant
He referred to American multinational Apple
which declared a loss last year and CEO Tim
Cook's cash benefit was cut by 15 per cent.
Apple said its annual sales of US$215.6 billion
were 3.7 per cent below target, and its operating
income of US$60 billion came up 0.5 per cent
short, for the fiscal year ended September 24.
The company posted its first annual revenue
decline in 15 years as sales volumes of the iP-
hone declined for the first time since it was
introduced in 2007.
As a result of the shortfall of Apple's own
projections, Cook's total 2016 compensation
fell 15 per cent to US$8.75 million from US$10.3
million in the year earlier.
The decline was tied to his cash bonus, which
hinged on exceeding revenue and profit targets
set by the board. His base salary actually rose
50 per cent to US$3 million.
The Employers' Consultative Association
(ECA) last week also criticised the OWTU for
threatening to take strike action while Petro-
trin is suffering losses and noted that there is
a wide difference between their wages and the
rest of the country.
"It is without question that these workers
play an important role in bringing to bear
what is indeed the country's primary income
generating resource and by this metric alone,
should not be treated disparately. However,
a simple comparative analysis would reveal
there are many differences between a Petro-
trin employee and those in similar positions in
other sectors. In this regard, the simple cry for
parity by saying this group of workers should
get what the rest of the country got cannot be
objectively considered as fair and reasonable."
The ECA called OWTU's demands unreal-
istic while the company suffers losses.
"The ECA is calling on all right-thinking
citizens to resist this planned course of action.
The facts as presented in the newspaper article
of Saturday December 31, 2016 by the Pres-
ident of Petrotrin, Fitzroy Harewood, needs
no further explanation.
"The cost to the State of an additional
TT$444 million for increased wages will not
only be burdensome to an already unprofita-
ble and unproductive entity in terms of plant,
machinery, and organisational capacity and
capabilities but, in addition, will be a huge
burden to taxpayers. Is this an additional re-
sponsibility that taxpayers are willing and more
importantly, able to bear at this time?
2013 Central Bank
According to a Central Bank Paper in 2013,
"Understanding wages in a Small Open Econ-
omy: The Case of T&T," wages in the energy
sector are much higher than other sectors.
The authors of the paper were Reshma
Mahabir, Vishana Jagessar, Crystal Neptune
and Delvin Cox. The paper noted that over the
past 50 or so years there have been significant
changes in the T&T labour market.
Members of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) construct a tent at the entrance of the Petrotrin administration building,
Pointe-a-Pierre on Saturday PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
Continued on Page 5
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