Oilfield Workers Trade Union president general Ancel Roget pay tribute to the founder of the labour movement Tubal Uriah Buzz Butler during the wreath-laying ceremony yesterday.

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Promising 4,500 new jobs soon, president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union Ancel Roget says Patriotic Energies and Technologies Company Limited is close to finalising its deal with the Government for the purchase of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

Delivering his Labour Day speech at the historic Charlie King Junction in Fyzabad yesterday, Roget said when the union takes over the refinery there will be a thrust to increase profitability.

“With the highest degree of operational reliability and efficiency, Patriotic is going to guarantee a reliable supply of fuel for the local consumption and for foreign exports, Patriotic will bring back regular gasoline for the fishermen. Patriotic will contribute to arts, culture, the sports and to youth development,” Roget said.

He also praised the Government for respecting the sovereignty of Venezuela in the face of oppression from the United States.

“I am no friend or supporter of this Government, but right is right and principle is principle, and therefore we insist that the Government’s foreign policy on the sovereign Republic of Venezuela is correct and therefore we totally support it,” Roget said.

He added, “It cannot be that we support a foreign power to remove a democratically elected government and illegally install an opposition in its place. We denounce and condemn regime change by coup or by any surreptitious means or effort to remove a democratically elected government in any part of the world.”

Roget also said he was concerned about the loss of jobs, high crime, the failure of the Government to implement labour legislation, the mismanagement of the economy and corruption.

“The Government ignored Labour’s Economic Alternative Plan and even their own Economic Advisory Board. The Minister of Finance raised the price of fuel, not once, not twice but three times,” Roget said.

He also called on the Finance Minister Colm Imbert to begin discussions with various trade unions to settle outstanding negotiations.

Pledging support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Roget called on citizens to withstand any attempt to divide them on the basis of race.

Roget also called on the government to convene a national discussion on crime.

“We also call for the government to commit resources to treat will all aspects of crime, from the socio-economic conditions to the protection of our borders, to the eradication of white-collar crime,” he said.

He added, “The murder rate continues to increase. According to T&T Crime Statistics, in 2016 there were 463 murders, in 2017 it was 494, in 2018 it was 516 and in 2019 it was 538, totalling 2,011 persons. 2,011 human beings being murdered.”

He warned of politicians who rode the backs of the workers “deceitfully chanting “Black Power” and “Power to the People” while seeking personal power and riches only for themselves.”

“These politicians made absolutely no real effort to place power in the hands of you the people or to restructure the economy to the benefit of Black people. In other words comrades throughout the years they made no real effort comrades improve the quality of your life,” he said.

He also said apart from crime, there has been the issue of increased illegal immigrants coming to T&T from Venezuela.

“Among those immigrants are hardened criminals and Venezuelan gang members who have now found it easy to continue their illegal activities of drugs, arms and prostitution in our country,” Roget said.

The president-general also spoke of a plot to discredit him.

“I wish to warn that any person who is prepared to simply accept money just to denigrate the character of innocent people, be warned that we have our lawyers on standby just waiting for you to step out of line,” he said.

Roget explained that the Opposition was desperate to get into office saying its leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar was trying to hoodwink the population.

“She is attempting to undermine the former Petrotrin workers, by her recent actions. She has no problem if economic sanctions are imposed on our sovereign country,” Roget said.

A total of 17 trade unions participated in the annual march and rally despite inclement weather.

Police continued to watch over the proceedings which ended before 3 pm.