Trinidad Guardian:–  Teachers are being asked to stay away from classrooms on September 7.

The call came from Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Lynsley Doodhai yesterday in a show of solidarity for the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), which was dealt a hard blow with Tuesday’s announcement that the Petrotrin refinery will be shut down.

The closure of the refinery is expected result in the termination of some 2,600 workers.

“Next week Friday, parents please keep your children at home, teachers will not be in school on Friday 7,” Doodhai said.

“Schools would be devoid of teachers come next week Friday. Do not waste your hard-earned money to send your children to school, the teachers won’t be there.”

His comment came during a media conference hosted by the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) at the Banking, Insurance and General Workers’ Union (BIGWU) headquarters in Barataria.

“TTUTA would hope that good sense would prevail and that the Government and Petrotrin board would reconsider the decision that they announced yesterday (Tuesday),” Doodhai said.

He said the day of rest and reflection had now assumed even greater significance in the wake of the Petrotirn decision.

“Workers are no longer going to take it. There is a saying in TTUTA, if you touch one teacher, you touch all teachers, I say this morning if you touch one worker, you touch all workers,” he said.

There was a consensus from JTUM that the Government had declared war on the workers of the country with the plan to shut down the Petrotrin refinery and send home some 2,600 workers and the trade unions said they are going to retaliate.

While several union leaders made veiled threats of action, Sheep and Goat Farmers Association president Shiraz Khan was the most vocal. He condemned Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Minister of Finance Colm Imbert, saying they need to be “dealt with”.

He said back in 2015 before the general election, the two marched in solidarity with the workers and laughed when the union insulted then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, but said they were doing worse but calling for discipline from the unions.

“September 7 is just the start. We coming for all yuh,” Khan said.

“You feel this is a game? Allyuh could just shut down and start back?” he asked, referring to the uncertain future of the Petrotrin refinery.

Khan said Rowley sat with the JTUM for 10 meetings before the 2015 general election and talked to the union about getting their support.

“Today look what he doing to we. He is taking this country down a road, it may not have no return,” Khan.

He said Rowley was being untruthful about many things in agriculture and now with the OWTU and Petrotrin.

“Today, what he is doing to the ordinary people in this country, I want to tell Rowley that this is not Caroni (1975) Ltd, this is not BWIA, this is not TTT, this is the leader of all unions,” he said, referring to Roget’s OWTU.

“We not going to take that damned stupidness from you Rowley, we not taking that and we standing with the OWTU.

“Allyuh behave allyuh self, September 7 is only the start. This man has to be dealt with and I make no bones (about it).