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Updated: 1 hour 9 min ago

Company claims union intimidation

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 01:38

Even in the face of an injunction from the High Court, protests continued outside Lennox Petroleum Services (LPS) in San Fernando on Thursday as former workers led by the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union demanded some $30 million in backpay owed to them since 2015.

The workers set up a large banner outside the company’s headquarters at Princess Margaret Street promising to take legal action against the company.

However, LPS managing director Wayne Persad claimed company officials were being threatened by protesters and they had no choice but to file an injunction preventing the OWTU from entering their premises.

In a statement, Persad said the company does not employ 250 workers but had only 25 staff members. Accusing the OWTU of trespassing on its compound and assaulting a security guard, Persad said, “On August 29, the OWTU forcibly entered the compound and assaulted by beating, a security officer. The members of the OWTU, who were about 40 members strong, then proceeded to search the compound, shouting the Chief Executive Officer’s name, and asking him to come out.

Consistent with our company’s emergency policies and procedures, the police were notified of the intrusion and responded within minutes.”

Saying the actions of the OWTU’s members were “criminal in nature and amounted to trespass,” Persad said the company had since filed an injunction in the High Court to prevent any further acts of trespassing as the OWTU have threatened to continue their action.

“The acts of the OWTU were extremely unwarranted and were designed to intimidate our company’s management and staff,” Persad said.

He said on Monday it received correspondence from the OWTU that the dispute over backpay was forwarded to the Ministry of Labour and a meeting is scheduled for September 11.

Noting that the company’s founder, Pamela Persad, passed away on August 18, he said the company was in transition and the union had exploited the company’s present vulnerabilities. He also said none of the 25 staff members were OWTU members and none of the protesters were company employees.

“Therefore, it is not correct to say that the OWTU protested in solidarity with our company’s workers and none of the said protesters were authorised to be on our company’s compound. Since the protest, members of our management and staff have received numerous threatening phone calls and text messages. Our company wishes to advise that it shall take every possible measure to ensure the safety of our management and staff, and will be prosecuting every person who threatens the safety of our employees to the fullest extent of the law,” Persad added.

He also said his company was the only labour service provider in T&T with a settled Collective Bargaining Agreement for the period 2018-2020 and is presently without a labour service contract. He said his company has also not withheld any legitimate payment which is due to any worker.

OWTU’s Chief labour relations officer Lyndon Mendoza and president general Ancel Roget could not be reached for comment.

Categories: News

ANSA McAL Foundation donates $465,000 to nine recipients

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 23:40

The ANSA McAL Foundation presented grants to nine organisations and individuals totalling $465,000 on Thursday.

Among the recipients were Sr Marie Thérèse Rétout, of the Holy Name Convent, the John E Sabga Foundation, the Friends of the Botanic Gardens, Althea Montano, a member of the Guardian Media staff whose son was accepted to medical school in Canada, the Writing Intervention, Vitas House, the Rotary Club of Central Port-of-Spain, SEWA International TT and Bishop’s High School, Tobago.

The grants will be used for a variety of purposes. They include the creation of a pancreatic cancer awareness and research facility in T&T, support for the Vitas House, the commissioning of histories of the Dominican Sisters and the Botanic Gardens, environmental projects such as plastic recycling, creating a writing programme to assist young people, and the creation of a model United Nations assembly to foster greater awareness in young people.

This is the second time for the year that grants have been awarded by the ANSA McAL Foundation, which is supported by the ANSA McAL Group of Companies.

Here the recipients are photographed with ANSA McAL Foundation members Maria Superville Neilson, Linda Hadeed, Fr John Mendes, Diana Mahabir-Wyatt and Ravindranath (Ravi Ji) Maharaj.

Categories: News

Ramleela Council seeks $3m for events

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 23:37

The National Ramleela Council is seeking $3 million to run this year’s celebration.

This was announced by Kamalwattie Ramsubeik, the head of the National Ramleela Council of T&T (NRCTT) at the launch of Ramleela celebrations on Thursday at Saith Park, Chaguanas.

Ramsubeik suggested that State funds be distributed by the National Ramleela Council to ensure fair and equitable distribution. She said last year some groups got as little as $3,000 while production costs for the 10-day event can exceed $400,000.

She said last year the Ministry of Culture distributed $200,000 in cheques. Ramsubeik said the NRCTT is seeking an urgent meeting with the Ministry of Culture to discuss the issue of the distribution of funds.

Ramleela celebrations are set to begin in October and the NRCTT represents around 35 Ramleela groups in T&T.

Ramsubeik said groups now have to pay for additional security to prevent vehicular thefts and break-ins. She said vandalism is another problem since some people destroyed props at outdoor savannah venues.

She said despite high criminal activity Ramleela attracts thousands of people.

“Some groups have an audience of 10-15 thousand people. We will total like over 300,000, 400,000 in total for all the groups in the council.”

Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodhan, who spoke at the launch, said Ramleela can do well to inculcate positive social values into youths and the wider community once the message is spread.

Boodhan also warned citizens to guard against the “Rawans or demons” that plagued T&T. He said, “The Rawans continue to inflict and pains and suffering on the people. We must rid society of all the evils and Rawans that continue to plague us.”

Categories: News

PNM membership to fund new Balisier House—Rohan

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 23:35

The new Balisier House, costing between $12.5 million and $25 million, will be funded strictly by fund-raising efforts within People’s National Movement (PNM) constituencies.

One of the deputy political leaders yesterday pegged the cost for the new five-storey structure between $500 and $1,000 per square foot. The building is expected to be 25,000 square foot when completed.

Rohan Sinanan, the Works and Transport Minister, said that despite the negative comments and questions about where the party would get the money to start the work, the PNM had been raising funds for the past two years for this project.

“We have been having fund-raising activities, like boat cruises and other efforts, for the past two years for this project,” Sinanan said.

“I am confident that the membership will be able to completely fund this new building because of what Balisier House means to the people of the PNM,” he said.

“Fund-raising efforts will continue until the building is complete,” he said.

The sod was turned on the multi-million dollar PNM headquarters during a free cooler fete at the Balisier House compound on Thursday.

Both Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and party chairman, Energy Minister Franklin Khan turned the ceremonial sod, a layer of sand in a red box, to mark the start of the project.

One of the highlights of the fete was the first three-car give-away of a 10-car raffle, proceeds from which go toward the construction of the new building.

The structure, according to information provided at the event, is expected to be five storeys high and accommodate basement parking. The existing, historical Balisier House will be refurbished and kept as a museum and library dedicated to all things PNM.

The construction was given a two-year time frame for completion.

The ten car giveaway includes nine Honda City CNG vehicles and a grand prize of a BMW sedan.

Categories: News

Galleons Passage on sea trial today

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 23:19

The Galleons Passage will make its first sea trial at 6 am today from the Port of Port-of-Spain to Tobago.

The vessel is expected to service the seabridge from next week.

Confirmation came yesterday from Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan.

He spoke to Guardian Media after making a toast to the nation with dignitaries at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port-of-Spain, to celebrate the country’s 56th Independence anniversary.

Asked when the vessel will have it first sea trial, Sinanan replied, “Tomorrow. I can’t confirm the time because I am now going to the Port Authority to get that information.” Sinanan said everything has been set for the sea trial.

Pressed further as to when the boat will begin to service the seabridge, Sinanan said, “by next week.”

Yesterday, Port Authority of T&T (Patt) chairman Lyle Alexander said he was one of several people invited on the sea trial.

 

“As an invited guest I am told that we are leaving at 6 in the morning. I will be going.”Alexander could not say who were the other invited guests. The vessel is expected to dock at Scarborough, Tobago.

Alexander said they are expected to return to Trinidad the same day.

Questioned how many sea trials the vessel will have to undergo before being put into service, Alexander said, “the strict answer to that is as many as are required.”

He said the vessel has to go through a number of sea trials to be certified.

On July 16, the boat arrived in our shores after a four-month journey from China.

The vessel remained berthed at the Port of Port-of-Spain for a month before taken to Staubles Bay, in Chaguaramas three weeks ago.

During a Conversation with the Prime Minister in Tobago last month, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told Tobagonians they should not expect a fast ride with the boat. The vessel is expected to make a one-way journey between Port-of-Spain and Scarborough in excess of four hours.

The Galleons Passage is a single hull boat that travelled at a top speed of 22 knots.

Giving an update on the Cabo Star, Vilma Lewis-Cockburn, acting CEO of Patt said the vessel will go on dry dock from September 20 to 30. “The Cabo Star will sail until the 19 September.”

She said as an interim measure, the T&T Spirit will transport light trucks while the Cabo Star is out of service.

Categories: News

50 blood samples test negative for malaria

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 23:18

Fifty blood samples taken from Cedros residents have been diagnosed as negative for malaria but councillor Shankar Teelucksingh says testing must continue.

In an interview yesterday, Teelucksingh called on the government to continue testing at the Cedros port and around schools in the southwestern peninsula, before the start of the new school term, which opens on Monday.

“We need the Government to set up a mobile unit at the port equipped with body temperature scanners so if a foreigner comes in with signs of a fever, immediate testing can be done,” Teelucksingh said.

He added that there have been two confirmed cases of malaria in Cedros, adding that hundreds of Venezuelans were infected by malaria, cholera and other ailments because of the social and economic crisis in that country.

“What they are doing is the basic perifocal work. I am satisfied with this because such work will assist in preventing any possible outbreak and what checks and balances are they putting for the illegal Venezuelans coming across? Why hasn’t a mobile unit been set up to deal with incoming foreigners?” Teelucksingh asked. He also called on the Ministry to set up a system whereby patients are monitored at private doctor’s offices.

“I also want testing to be done around the Icacos Government School, Fullarton Primary School, Cedros Government Primary, and Cedros Composite,” Teelucksingh said, in a telephone interview with Guardian Media yesterday.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry said the Insect Vector Control Division (IVCD) took 50 blood samples for malaria, all of which tested negative for malaria. The Ministry said on Monday, 11 people were tested and on Tuesday, 39 tests were done.

The Ministry said the IVCD will continue its routine activities for the surveillance and control of mosquito-borne diseases in targeted areas throughout T&T by treating homes and continuing surveillance and testing.

“Field Officers of the IVCD will inspect and treat homes and communities where mosquito breeding is suspected. This treatment includes the use of thermal fogging for adult forms of the mosquito, use of Aquatain for killing mosquito larvae and pupae in water containers and use of Bactivec to kill mosquito larvae in waterways and water containers. Aquatain and Bactivec are agents approved by the World Health Organization for use and are safe for humans and the environment when appropriately applied,” the Ministry said.

Categories: News

Galleons Passage on sea trial today

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 23:16

The Galleons Passage will make its first sea trial at 6 am today from the Port of Port-of-Spain to Tobago.

The vessel is expected to service the seabridge from next week.

Confirmation came yesterday from Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan.

He spoke to Guardian Media after making a toast to the nation with dignitaries at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port-of-Spain, to celebrate the country’s 56th Independence anniversary.

Asked when the vessel will have it first sea trial, Sinanan replied, “Tomorrow. I can’t confirm the time because I am now going to the Port Authority to get that information.” Sinanan said everything has been set for the sea trial.

Pressed further as to when the boat will begin to service the seabridge, Sinanan said, “by next week.”

Yesterday, Port Authority of T&T (Patt) chairman Lyle Alexander said he was one of several people invited on the sea trial.

 

“As an invited guest I am told that we are leaving at 6 in the morning. I will be going.”Alexander could not say who were the other invited guests. The vessel is expected to dock at Scarborough, Tobago.

Alexander said they are expected to return to Trinidad the same day.

Questioned how many sea trials the vessel will have to undergo before being put into service, Alexander said, “the strict answer to that is as many as are required.”

He said the vessel has to go through a number of sea trials to be certified.

On July 16, the boat arrived in our shores after a four-month journey from China.

The vessel remained berthed at the Port of Port-of-Spain for a month before taken to Staubles Bay, in Chaguaramas three weeks ago.

During a Conversation with the Prime Minister in Tobago last month, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told Tobagonians they should not expect a fast ride with the boat. The vessel is expected to make a one-way journey between Port-of-Spain and Scarborough in excess of four hours.

The Galleons Passage is a single hull boat that travelled at a top speed of 22 knots.

Giving an update on the Cabo Star, Vilma Lewis-Cockburn, acting CEO of Patt said the vessel will go on dry dock from September 20 to 30. “The Cabo Star will sail until the 19 September.”

She said as an interim measure, the T&T Spirit will transport light trucks while the Cabo Star is out of service.

Categories: News

Man gunned down in La Horquetta

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 23:14

A 26-year-old man from La Horquetta was found dead in the yard of a resident’s home yesterday.

Police said the man was shot multiple times.

According to a police report, at about 12.45 pm officers of the La Horquetta Crime Patrol Unit were on patrol when they were called to the murder scene.

The officers, PCs Baptiste and Ward, went to a house at Phase 5 where they found the body of Sherwin De Souze lying on the ground outside the house. De Souze, police said, lived at Phase 5.

Police are yet to determine a motive for the killing.

That murder has brought the murder toll to 365 for the year thus far.

Investigations are continuing.

Categories: News

Griffith: One year to turn around TTPS

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 23:09

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said yesterday that in one-year’s time the Police Service will be more efficient and effective.

And President Paula-Mae Weekes said she intends to hold him to the deadline.

Griffith was speaking at the Independence Day function hosted by the T&T Police Service (TTPS) at Police Administration Building, in Port-of-Spain after the parade in the Queen’s Park Savannah.

In her debut visit to the TTPS’ Administration Building, to raise a toast to the nation, Weekes said that T&T is in a “slip of trouble” and urged all present to do their respective part to “reverse our present course.”

“I ask you please to go forward with boundless faith in our destiny, understanding fully that boundless faith without works could achieve absolutely nothing and there is no stagnant and static situation. If we are not going forward we will be going backwards,” Weekes said.

Moments before, Griffith, who was dressed in his ceremonial police uniform, assured that all will be done, “required by law,” to protect this country. He also assured “steadfast leadership, strategic management and accountability.”

“I would like to reveal a birthday gift to this nation…I give a promise to you today that one year from now, by God’s grace and will, by our 57th anniversary, the TTPS will be a more efficient and effective service,” Griffith said.

Also present at the reception were also Chief Justice Ivor Archie, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his wife, Sharon, and the Minister of National Security Stuart Young.

Categories: News

President steals show at Savannah parade

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 23:08

Thunderous cheers, whistles and applause greeted a smiling President Paula Mae-Weekes, as she entered the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, yesterday to commemorate the country’s 56 anniversary Independence parade.

Since being inaugurated in March as the country’s first female President this was Weekes’ maiden Independence parade before hundreds of spectators who were dressed in their patriotic colours of red, white and black seated in the Grand Stand.

Among the spectators who gave Weekes a round of applause were Gail Mc Intyre and Deryck Boodoo.

Mc Intyre, 45, admitted that Weekes was the main reason she attended the celebrations.

“This is the first time I am seeing the President in the flesh and I have no regrets coming here today. I feel so patriotic and elated. As a woman, our President has inspired me in so many ways,” Mc Intyre said.

“I know today would have been special with our female President doing the inspection and it really was,” said Boodoo, who lives in San Fernando.

Attending the celebration were Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his wife, Sharon, who also received cheers from the public.

Among other public officials who witnessed the event were Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, National Security Minister Stuart Young, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, Government ministers, Opposition MPs and members of the diplomatic corps, who sat in the VIP area in the Grand Stand.

This was also Griffith and Young’s first parade since being appointed to the posts earlier this month.

The CJ came alone although his wife’s name was listed on the official programme.

From 8 am, Weekes, who is also Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, made her grand entry into the savannah in a specially decorated military vehicle surrounded by an escort of the Mounted Branch, to the sounds of trumpets. She was invited to inspect the hour-long parade which consisted of the police, air guard, coast guard, prisons, fire service and traffic wardens among others.

Accompanying Weekes during the inspection were Chief of Defence Staff Commodore Hayden Pritchard, Parade Commander Colonel Darnley Wyke and her Aide-de-Camp Major Leslie Ann Mohammed.

All three sheltered from the blistering sun as they stood under a canopy of the military vehicle.

Following the inspection, the protective services marched past Weekes who honoured her with a presidential salute.

Then there was a display of vehicles from the T&T Police Service, Coast Guard, Fire Services, prisons, St John’s Ambulance and T&T Regiment which ranged from hydraulic lifts, motorbikes, buses, fire engines and ambulances which wowed spectators.

One of the highlights of the parade was when two helicopters in national colours flew overhead.

There was a 21-gun salute in honour of the 56 anniversary of Independence during the National Anthem, bringing the curtain down on the event at the Savannah.

The parade, however, continued along a designated route in Port-of-Spain and ended at the St James Barracks.

Weekes, who was dressed in a stunning red and black dress, then shifted to the nearby National Academy for the Performing Arts where she gave a toast to the nation.

Categories: News

Unite to move country forward

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 23:04

President Paula-Mae Weekes yesterday urged Government members, Opposition MPs and members of the diplomatic corps that we need boundless heart, sacrifice and effort, as well as tangible faith, in a bid to move our beloved country forward.

This was the message Weekes delivered as she made a toast to the nation at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port-of-Spain, in the presence of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, his wife Sharon, Chief Justice Ivor Archie, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, Government ministers, Senators, Opposition MPs, chairpersons of state boards and diplomats.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar, who attended the Independence Day parade at the Queen’s Park Savannah earlier, was notably absent from this event. Bringing greetings on the occasion, Weekes asked the specially invited guests how they felt knowing that 56 years have gone? “Looking back, there can be no doubt that Trinidad and Tobago, over the years, has had many and varying accomplishments of achievements,” Weekes said.

However, looking at today’s situation, Weekes said it “would cause deep concern and maybe alarm in all of us.” She said we have to be our own saviours. “It is for us.” She quoted a line from one of calypsonian Funny’s songs saying: “Right now we backing back on we heel. We have got to turn around. How we do that, has a slow solution?”

She suggested a prescription in moving forward, as she quoted a line from the T&T’s National Anthem— with boundless faith in our destiny. She said what we need was “real faith…tangible faith… the kind of faith that requires all of us…boundless in heart, boundless effort and boundless sacrifice.”

In giving her third and final toast to the nation at the Fire Services headquarters on Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, which was attended by Chief Fire Officer Roosevelt Bruce and other dignitaries, Weekes jokingly swore to absolute secrecy, stating that “not a word must leave this room…this is my favourite stop,” as guests burst into uncontrollable laughter.

“I have not been to an Independence parade in many years because as a judge this is the time you would be normally out of the country on long vacation.”

However, she said when she saw the fire officers in the march past at the Independence Day parade at the Savannah, “I became nostalgic.

I have always loved the stripes. But let me sound a word of warning, I am not necessarily faithful and I noticed that the Traffic Wardens are giving you all a run for your money,” Weekes said on a lighter note.

Thanking the Fire Services for inviting her, Weekes said when she thought this was her last stop, “I say, you know, it is an odd thing… that when you think about protective services somehow from timeto- time we forget the fire officers, who are as essential as any other service in our nation.”

She thanked the officers for giving of themselves and service to the country. “Let us take the opportunity today to recommit ourselves to the nation’s business. It is serious business.”

Weekes said it should be no surprise to anyone “that we are all concerned about the national climate and the things that are going on in our country today, but we can’t leave it there,” stating that each citizen must “take responsibility.”

Weekes said part of the fire officers’ oath was to render true and faithful service to T&T.

“You have done so over the last 56 years and I urge you to continue.

Our nation needs you now more than ever.”

Categories: News

No suspicion of wrongdoing in T&TEC substation fire

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 16:44

The T&T Electricity Commission says it has no suspicion of sabotage following an early morning fire at its Savonetta Substation which knocked out power at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate and neighbouring communities.

The billowing cloud of black smoke at North Sea Drive, Point Lisas triggered speculation on social media that the fire could have been maliciously set. However, T&TEC's manager of Corporate Communications

Annabelle Brasnell said investigations were ongoing and there was no suspicion of sabotage.

"At this point, we have no suspicion of anything like sabotage. Our first priority is to restore supply to customers and get to the source of the fire. We cannot say what is the genesis of this unless we complete investigations.

By 1 pm, the electricity supply was restored to all residential customers at Phoenix Park and Cedar Hill. However, three companies- YARA Trinidad Limited, ANSA McAL Chemicals Limited and Trinidad Nitrogen Company Ltd (Tringen) were without electricity.

​​​​​​​Brasnell also denied that the substation was destroyed.

"The substation is still standing. Because there is oil in transformers, the fire looked as if the entire substation was engulfed. People saw the big black smoke but that occurred largely because there is oil in the site. Only one transformer has been damaged and two other pieces of equipment used to transmit the electricity have been burnt. The substation has not burnt down. Another transformer is still intact and substation building is intact as well," Brasnell said.

She added that this was the first fire of its kind to occur in four years adding that there was a fire at the West Moorings facility in 2014.

The substation at Point Lisas was not occupied at the time of the blaze. 

T&TEC’s engineers spent hours on site executing repairs and doing checks.

Meanwhile, police said yesterday that a break-in was reported at Petrotrin's Beach Camp facilities in one of the executive building owned by Petrotrin which is often occupied by senior staff. 

However, it is uncertain whether anything was stolen.

On Thursday during a press conference president general of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union Ancel Roget said all of T&T will see black if the government pushes ahead to shut down the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

"It is an act of reprisal because we can make no sense out of this. But (Prime Minister Dr Keith ) Rowley has to be reminded that those who seek to destroy the OWTU will only destroy himself. Then they talking about a black hole. Let me say to Franklin Khan the whole country would not be placed in a black hole if you leave Petrotrin running.

The whole country will be black is you shut down Petrotrin. In fact, if you don't reverse that decision the whole country will be black," Roget said.

Efforts to contact Roget and chief research and education officer Ozzi Wharwick for comment yesterday proved futile as calls to their cellular phones went unanswered.
 

Categories: News

Petrotrin worker found dead in crashed car

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 16:40

A month before he was expected to lose his job with the shutdown of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, Petrotrin welder Jefferson Ogiste ended up dead when the car in which he was traveling ran off the San Fernando Bypass and ended up in a ditch.

The driver of the car, who absconded following the crash, remains unidentified. Another passenger, Akil Williams, who suffered injuries to his head and legs, remains warded in a stable condition at the San Fernando General Hospital.

Police said around 830 am, officers from the Mon Repos Police station responded to an accident at the San Fernando Bypass near the Pleasantville traffic lights. Witnesses said a silver Nissan Teana heading south careened off the road and struck an electricity pole, knocking off power in several parts of the city.

The car ended up in a ravine.

The driver fled the scene, leaving Ogiste and Williams behind.

In an interview, Ogiste's cousin Tricia Purcell said it was uncertain whether Ogiste died before or after the crash. Saying she did not know why the driver absconded or whether Ogiste knew the occupants, Purcell said they were awaiting the results of an autopsy before they could piece together the last moments of Ogiste's life.

Purcell said Ogiste was one of many who is expected to be out of a job when the refinery closes by October 1. She said he was concerned about his family and on Thursday he gave his sister some money to buy school books for his two daughters aged four and eight.

Purcell described Ogiste as a hardworking man who had a close relationship with his family. She said he had no runnings with the law and was committed to his children, both of whom lived with his mother Veera Ogiste at Solomon Street, Princes Town.

The damaged vehicle has been removed for forensic analysis. Investigators said a trace revealed that it was not stolen. An autopsy is scheduled to be done on Ogiste's body at the Forensic Sciences Centre on Monday.
Anyone with information on the crash can contact Crimestoppers at 800-TIPS.

Categories: News

Amputee charged for mechanic’s murder

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 23:22

An amputee appeared in court charged with the murder of a Sangre Grande mechanic.

Kevin “Guts” Civilian, 37, appeared before Magistrate Cheron Raphael, in the Sangre Grande Magistrates Court late on Wednesday charged with the murder of Richard Shamme Phillip.

Phillip, 35, of Rampersad Trace, Vega de Oropouche, was shot dead at his workplace on Ramdass Street, Sangre Grande on August 24.

The charge was laid by WPC Ria Timothy of Sangre Grande Criminal Investigations Department following instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard.

The accused was arrested moments after the murder. He was also charged with possession of firearm and ammunition.

Standing in front of the magistrate with the aid of a crutches, Civilian shook his head as the murder charge was read to him.

Civilian was remanded into custody at Golden Grove Prison, Arouca and is expected to reappear in court on September 26.

—RALPH BANWARIE

Categories: News

Contingency plan in place—Ministry

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 23:18

Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan yesterday gave the assurance that primary and secondary school students will be provided with proper supervision and safety should teachers boycott classes next Friday.

Seecharan was responding to calls by the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) for teachers to stay away from schools on September 7 as a day of rest and reflection in a show of solidarity with Petrotrin workers.

The country has over 15,000 teachers. The Joint Trade Union Movement has also called for a day of rest and reflection.

Education Minister Anthony Garcia, in an interview with Guardian Media Ltd on Wednesday, said his ministry will open all schools despite TTUTA’s planned action.

Garcia also asked teachers to remember their responsibility to their students.

He could not say if teachers could face disciplinary action for staying away butadded that if it comes to that he will speak to the Chief Personnel Officer.

Yesterday, several calls to Garcia’s cell phone went unanswered. But Seecharan reminded citizens that this was not the first time TTUTA had called for a day of boycott by teachers.

If teachers do opt to stay away, Seecharan said all schools have measures in place to deal with such event.

“The ministry has clear protocols in the event that some teachers stay home that arrangements are made to ensure that students are adequately supervised.”

Should there be a mass boycott, Seecharan said each principal knows what his/her responsibilities are and protocols must be initiated.

“There is a middle management team at the level of the school so that the teams will assess the situation and make decisions in terms of supervision and safety of students.”

He said there are 134 government and government-assisted secondary schools, while there are 455 primary schools in T&T.

The ministry also places students in private secondary schools.

Categories: News

Espinet: Petrotrin will foot workers’ payout

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 23:06

State-owned Petrotrin will foot the bill for the severance of the 1,700 workers who will lose jobs when the company’s refinery section closes in October, board chairman Wilfred Espinet says.

Petrotrin had estimated 2,700 workers were involved in the matter and about 100 would be taken back into the company after the refinery was closed. That would leave 1,700 out of jobs.

Yesterday, OWTU officer Ozzie Warwick told T&T Guardian that Government was undercalculating how many workers would be affected and its estimate of 1,700 workers only encompassed permanent workers.

Warwick said the OWTU estimates a total of 9,00o workers - permanent, casual, temporary - will be affected.

“And the termination costs will be huge,” Warwick said.

Speaking to T&T Guardian, Espinet said Petrotrin will have to solve the payout settlement aspect of the situation on its own, rather than depend on the Finance Ministry or Treasury.

“It’s got to be sourced by Petrotrin, we’ve got to find the money,” Espinet added.

On whether people who may lose jobs may find opportunities in the modified company plan, he said, “In any areas, if there’s a genuine vacuum, it will be filled by people who’ll do the job.”

Acknowledging it was a volatile time, Espinet said he believes people can re-tool for jobs.

Espinet maintained that the refinery closure was necessary to remove the part of Petrotrin which wasn’t making money. Questioned on the proDRAYTONjected plan for the company minus the refinery, he said projections would not involve buying any more infrastructure apart from “a few bits and pieces.” He didn’t detail those.

Categories: News

New TTT to counteract fake news

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 23:04

The new TTT television station must be the “gold standard” of quality in broadcasting and lead the charge in providing factual, accurate information and combating “fake news,” Prime Dr Keith Rowley has indicated.

He did so yesterday as he launched TTT Limited—formerly CNMG—at Maraval Road, Port-of-Spain.

“In closing CNMG, we’re opening the door to a brighter future,” Rowley added.

Rowley said TTT needed to adhere to high standards because of the seriousness of the role the media plays in citizens’ lives.

In a time when one has to question everything seen and misinformation, he said TTT has the role of building a reputation as a bastion for correct information. If a question arises on something that’s “trending” and if it’s seen or heard on TTT, “... you’ll know it’s been checked.”

On TTT’s other role as a production house, Rowley said it’s important for the station to not just broadcast news or provide a platform for creativity but facilitate the creation of local content. He said with the negativity seen in the news, it was important to produce programmes that elevate, entertain and drive people to a higher quality of life.

“Rather than be news carrier, it’s more important for this generation of TTT to be a programme producer of content for T&T and externally,” he said.

He projected jobs and projects which could bring revenue from such productions, which would, in turn, offer a platform for talented people.

Rowley said the media is an integral part of T&T’s quality of life. He said he’d had two friends in the media, one of whom he taught in school. He said he’d once disagreed on state-owned media but over time changed that view. He cited the US’ PBS and UK’s BBC as proof of a role for the state in media.

Communication Minister Stuart Young said TTT will lead the charge of 100 per cent accurate news to combat the proliferation of “fake news”, which he said was growing and taking over, especially on social media, and would be a go-to platform for information.

Categories: News

Four in court for killing of PH driver

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 23:00

Four men, charged with the murder of a PH taxi driver in Diego Martin which occurred on August 20, appeared before a Port-of-Spain Magistrate on Wednesday.

Paul Williams, aka ‘Porter’, 22, of Savannah Terrace, Diego Martin; Shakeem Charles aka ‘Keem’, 20, of Nelson Street, Port-of-Spain; Joseph George, 20, of George Street, Port-of-Spain; and Isaiah Pantin, aka ‘Wong’ and ‘Ziah’, 18, of Four Roads, Diego Martin, appeared before acting Deputy Chief Magistrate Nannette Forde-John in the Port-of-Spain 5th Magistrates’ Court.

Charles and George were also charged with of possession of a firearm and ammunition. The matter was postponed to September 26.

The victim, Jerrell Aris-Mendez, a 27-year-old, of Fatima Trace, Laventille, was hired to transport four men with his vehicle, into the Cascade area around 11.50am on August 20.

At Bagatelle Extension Road, Diego Martin, the passengers, two of whom were armed with firearms, announced a robbery.

During a struggle Aris-Mendez being shot several times. The suspects escaped on foot and the victim died at the scene.

The four men were arrested on the same day of the incident by officers attached to the Western Division.

Investigations were supervised by acting ASP Suzette Martin, while charges were laid by PC Dominic Garcia, both of Homicide Bureau of Investigations, Region 1, following advice received from Director of Public Prosecutions, Roger Gaspard, SC.

Categories: News

Always place national interest first

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 22:57

“The anniversary of our independence provides us with another opportunity to reflect on the meaning of citizenship and the value of our national identity.

The world has brought us news of nations gripped by civil war, anarchy and terror. In many countries people do not enjoy the freedoms we may be tempted to take for granted.

That our democracy has remained intact these 56 years is no small feat.

This deserves celebration given our status as one of the most multi-cultural societies in the western world. We have largely used our diversity as a bridge to make connections with each other. We’ve enjoyed a deep harmony that is intrinsic to our identity as nationals of this beloved country.

We must guard our unity zealously. This defence is especially needed in turbulent times.

It is in times of difficulty that the urge to retreat to narrow interests and partisan lines can become the strongest.

But we must resist this and seek instead an agreeable guidepost.

But how do we find common ground in an often polarising environment?

Permit me to suggest the advice from our first Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams in his inaugural speech on Independence Day 1962: “Whatever the challenge that faces you, from whatever quarter, place always first that national interest and the national cause.”

On an individual level, this asks us to always consider our choices and actions in light of the impact it will have on our families, communities and the entire nation.

For those of us who serve you as leaders, this requires us to work together to ensure that your interests are protected and that the collective good is sought over individual gain.

I have no doubt that we will do what is needed to create sustainable growth and national development. It is our responsibility as loyal citizens to ensure that our children can be proud of the decisions that we must make today.

On behalf of my family and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, I wish you all a safe and happy Independence Day 2018. May God continue to bless you and may God bless our nation.”

Categories: News

Licks for TTUTA over boycott call

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 22:42

Political analyst Prof John La Guerre has viewed the T&T Unified Teachers’ Association’s (TTUTA) call for teachers to stay away from classes on September 7 as holding the nation’s children to ransom.

La Guerre weighed in on the issue a day after TTUTA president Lynsley Doodhai called on teachers to boycott classes as a show of solidarity for the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU), which was dealt a hard blow with the shutdown of the Petrotrin refinery.

Yesterday, La Guerre praised the Government for taking a courageous and frontal decision to shutdown Petrotrin’s refinery, saying the country was in a national crisis.

“One expects in a national crisis people would put forward more constructive suggestions as to how this crisis should be dealt with. I think the first recourse should not be a shutdown by unions with TTUTA taking the lead.”

He said the better option was dialogue between the unions, Government and affected workers.

“To me, TTUTA is holding the nation’s children and by extension the country to ransom. I think trade unions, in general, believe they have a moral right to strike or to threaten strike once their material interests are affected. The time has come where people have to think not only of their immediate but their longer-term interests.”

La Guerre said citizens should also take a positive approach when faced with a crisis.

“It is imperative on us to behave responsibly. I hope that sobriety will prevail and people will come to their senses and recognise the economic implications for all of us. If the economy collapses we all will suffer.This is what is really meant by patriotism.

When unions talk about patriotism this is also what is involved.”

He said the trade union movement should be coming up with ideas and suggestions to get Petrotrin out of its mess. La Guerre said to call for a TTUTA boycott will obviously create fear in the minds of parents.

“I think TTUTA should be fighting battles for Trinidad and Tobago and not stand in solidarity with OWTU after an announcement was made to send Petrotrin workers home. This company has been draining the national purse and burdening citizens with its staggering debt.”

Political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath meanwhile said it was difficult to say if teachers would heed TTUTA’s call. “Teachers would have to take Friday as a sick leave day and that could be counted against them. I am not sure how many of them have that day to spare and would want to take it this early in the term.”

But Ragoonath did not see TTUTA’s call as holding the country to ransom.

“From that perspective, I see it as part of a wider call. Be that as it may, there always remain the concern as to whether or not it is their right to join in that movement or the workers’ right to engage in such action.”

Categories: News

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