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January 9 meeting to resolve JGRA-RUBiS impasse

Published:Wednesday | December 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer

Although agreeing to suspend protest actions pending the outcome of a meeting between Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell and petroleum marketing company RUBiS, set for January 9, the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA) says all is not well in the sector.

"The issues are much larger than we have expressed or reported," JGRA President Leonard Green told The Gleaner yesterday. "We still have a lot of dealers from other brands who are without contracts as we speak, and that has been a long-standing issue. So we are not without issues. We have just been given some amount of time."

However, he expressed satisfaction with the intervention of Paulwell, who is mediating the dispute between the JGRA and the French-based company, which has been operating in the Caribbean since 2005.

Yesterday, the minister met with both disputing parties separately, and the JGRA president said a lot was accomplished.

He explained: "I think there was greater understanding of our position. The minister has asked for further clarification, and so we are providing him with the relevant document (by tomorrow), giving further details of our position. We appreciate the intervention and responsiveness of the Government in respect of its quick reaction time."

The JGRA had warned it would not be able to guarantee regular service if RUBiS went ahead with plans to impose new business arrangements on its dealers, which it described as unfair and impractical.

Following yesterday's meeting with Paulwell, the protest actions as well as implementation of the new measures have been put on hold.

Now, Green is optimistic that the agreements flowing from that meeting will provide a template for resolving other outstanding issues in the trade.

"We are hoping for a permanent solution to the constant disruptions to the trade. We are hopeful that the Government will take the opportunity to really critically look at the industry and let us find us some permanent solutions," the JGRA president said.

Paulwell told The Gleaner he was confident this would be achieved, based on the assurances from both parties that there was a genuine desire for an equitable and lasting solution.

"In the meanwhile, the status quo remains. So those dealers who are operating under new conditions, they will continue to do so. Those that had refused, their position will be preserved, so they will continue in the unchanged situation until we get to the January 9 meeting," he said.