Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎


posted 26 Oct 2016, 18:08 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 26 Oct 2016, 18:19 ]
Tony Bedassie is a Trinmar worker
Contrary to what is being spread in our biased media, Petrotrin’s Trinmar workers are not
on strike. Contract workers of IOCL, the main provider of marine transportation for Trinmar workers, are on strike.

The predecessors of this company, Eric Miller and Gulf Marine Services, both belonged to the same owners. As workers rallied and demanded their just due, they closed up shop. 

The signed collective agreement between them and the Union thus became null and void. A new entity emerged - IOCL. This company was new only in name as the family links between the previous incarnation and the present is very strong.

These workers have been suffering, much like other contract workers within the company, for a long time. Their rates are substandard and not in line with industry standards. Indeed, contract workers are supposed to be paid the minimum rates applicable to company workers. Even though there are exceptions to this rule, common decency should see contractors matching the rate established within the schedule of the agreement.

There are rules; there are checks and balances. There are people entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that contractors tender based upon the minimum rates. The company has a process, whereby they have a counter costing with which to compare actual tenders. If a contractor's tender is below that of the company's counter costing then he will not be awarded the contract. Therefore if he is awarded, one must assume that within his tender, the minimum rate was accounted for.

The company has an audit department which should ensure that the tender process is followed. Tendering is supposed to be based upon, among other things, the minimum rate. If this isn't happening then the company is violating the agreement and shirking its responsibility. The collective agreement between the Oilfields Workers Trade Union and Petrotrin governs the relationship between contract workers and the company. It should always be borne in mind that the provisions of a collective agreement have the force of law.


This article determines the way in which contract workers are to be treated.

Subsection 2 (a) states " THE COMPANY further stipulates that when contract labour is engaged, THE CONTRACTOR shall not pay less than the MINIMUM RATE for the particular job classification as provided in the Schedule of the existing Agreement, and in addition, any COST OF LIVING BONUS and any other BONUSES, described in this agreement, which may be applicable."

What this means is that the contractor in tendering for the contract will quote this as justification for the rate he quotes, in addition to his other costs and mark up. Will this therefore drive up the cost of the contract? It should not since the contractor would have already gotten paid, based upon the minimum rates!!

The company, therefore, has a responsibility to ensure that this agreement is enforced and that contract workers are not exploited, thereby avoiding circumstances like what we are seeing now.

It is truly insulting that contract workers are allowed to be robbed by their employers simply because the people responsible for policing this agreement are falling down in their responsibility. Both the company and the union must accept the responsibility for enforcing this clause. 

I sincerely hope that this long overdue strike action will set the stage for the much needed change within the industry