April 12, 2017

Re: Safety and the Right to refuse work


A strong safety culture is vital for the continued success and competitiveness of the Trinidad & Tobago energy sector. Every individual working on any energy sector facility has a duty to stop work in any situation that will put themselves or others in harm’s way.  The misuse of this stop work duty by trade unions, as a cover for illegal strike action over pay, is extremely damaging to safety culture and undermines the entire safety management in the sector.

The Energy Chamber of Trinidad & Tobago urges all workers and their representatives to stop using alleged safety violations as an excuse for illegal strikes and shutting down projects.   

Adherence to world-class safety management systems played an extremely important role in the ability of TOFCO to deliver the Juniper topside on schedule with high quality work.  TOFCO achieved over two million man hours without a Lost Time Incident on the Juniper construction project: this is excellent safety performance.  Allegations of poor safety management both damage the reputation of the company and the local industry and are not supported by the facts. The protests that shut down the Juniper project and caused delays were about jobs and a few individuals trying to seek direct personal benefits. Safety was used as an excuse for illegal strike action.  

The recent illegal action by twenty-two Lennox Petroleum Services workers on the Rowan EXL II rig also used safety as a cover for an illegal strike.  The right to refuse work enshrined in the OSH Act is very specific and there are explicit procedures in the law that need to be followed.  The right to refuse work is not in the legislation to provide a cover for illegal strikes over pay.  Misusing this important provision in the law undermines safety.

One of the fundamental principles of a safety management system is that all incidents and near misses are reported and thoroughly investigated. The existence of investigation reports must not be used as evidence of unsafe practices because it is vital that reports are made and investigations conducted. The existence of investigation reports is not an excuse to call an illegal strike.

In the energy sector, where risks are high, safety is the top priority.  We urge trade unions to stop treating safety as something to be misused in pay bargaining processes or on political platforms.



For further information please contact us at (868) 6-ENERGY ext. 22/33