Today’s story in the Express captioned “410 jobs impacted…as Caribbean Nitrogen shuts down” has provoked an angry response from Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh, who is calling on Energy Minister Franklyn Khan and the Chairman of State-owned National Gas Company (NGC) Gerry Brooks to clarify why this situation was not resolved between Caribbean Nitrogen Company (CNC) and NGC from a contractual point of view.
Indarsingh questioned the leadership of both Khan and Brooks who have allowed some 110 workers and another 300 additional indirect workers to go onto the breadline with the immediate shutting down of the ammonia plant at the Point Lisas.
Indarsingh is demanding to know why the Line Minister and the Chairman did not deem it important to act in the interest of CNC’s workers since NGC is a fully-owned State Enterprise and the state’s office holders have a responsibility of preserving the jobs of citizens.
He calls the closure a sign of weak and poor leadership and alludes the lack of action and decisiveness on the part of both Khan and Brooks as reflective of an overall malaise in the management of the Government affairs.
The Couva South MP, himself a former Trade Union Leader, also criticized the continued inaction of Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus who seems to be totally impotent and out of touch to make any meaningful contribution towards the upliftment and job security of the country’s working-class.
Indarsingh reiterated he still holds Baptiste-Primus responsible for the March 2016 closure of the Arcelor Mittal Plant, also located in the Point Lisas, which resulted in over 720 direct job losses and another 2000 indirect losses. He said when the plant closure was announced, there were several international investors who were interested in taking over its operations but the Keith Rowley-led Government, this time through its Labour Minister, refused to meet with them to work out the terms and conditions of their investment in the country.
Today, that plant remains closed.
Indarsingh lamented the Point Lisas Industrial Estate is in his Couva South Constituency and most of the workers are his constituents.
Indarsingh is calling on Ministers Khan and Baptiste-Primus as well as NGC Chair Brooks to immediately convened a meeting with CNC’s Management and resolve the impasse.
The former Minister of State in the Ministries of Labour and Finance says the Rowley-led Administration, instead of allowing retrenchment to be used as a first option must instead use dialogue, negotiations and other incentives to offer some protection to the working-class citizens, especially the low-income and vulnerable ones who continue to struggle with the grim realization that there maybe no paycheque tomorrow for them. He predicted the worse is yet to come.
Indarsingh said just the word retrenchment can have a devastating impact of any worker.
He asked if this was the change and better governance that the PNM had promised.
He said the Government should be ashamed of their callous and inhumane treatment of the country’s working class and that we, the citizens, should be angry.