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Workers refuse to unload ship


Workers refuse to unload ship

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PORT OF SPAIN – The powerful Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) yesterday prevented its members from unloading a ship from West Africa, saying that the state-owned oil company PetroTrin had not formulated any protocols to deal with the deadly Ebola virus.

​But Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan said that the union was overreacting and that the ship Overseas Yellowstone had been cleared to dock at port of Pointe-a-Pierre.

​“Unlike clearance processes that occurred when a vessel that had visited Ghana was docked in Chaguaramas recently, PetroTrin has called in ‘scab labour’ [unskilled workers] to help dock the vessel at Pointe-a-Pierre,”the union said.

“In light of the heightened global Ebola threat, regular port workers have refused to dock the vessel unless PetroTrin applies the proper procedures and protocols.”

Ghana is not among the five Ebola-hit West African countries from where passengers have been banned from entering Trinidad and Tobago, but OWTU president general Ancil Roget told a news conference it mattered not, given the fact that the ships normally would use people from other countries.

“Therefore, any threat or any exposure to the Ebola virus would put at risk not only the employee, but the home, family, community and therefore it is in the national interest . . . that we call on the company 
to put in place the necessary protocols in the interest of the workers at Pointe-a-Pierre,” the union said.

Roget said that given the fact that the ship had been at other ports, it was possible that someone could be carrying the virus for which there is no known cure.

​But Khan said the union was playing games because it was fully aware of the tests that had been conducted on the vessel. (CMC)