TT Trade Union Leaders To Workers: It Is Time To Unite To Fight

Three of TT’s major trade unions held a motorcade throughout Tobago on Sunday, condemning what they believe is the Government’s plan to “decimate the country’s workforce.”

They also spoke out against privatisation, declining standards of living and the non-settlement of outstanding negotiations.

The motorcade, titled Unite To Fight, began at the Store Bay car park, Crown Point and ended at Gardenside, Scarborough.

The unions also held a similar motorcade in south Trinidad on January 16.

Addressing members of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) and Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FITUN) before the start of the motorcade, president general of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union Ancel Roget accused the Government of being on a relentless campaign to retrench the workers of this country.

“They are on a campaign to send everybody home. Our campaign must be to protect workers and to send home those who want to send home their workers.”

Roget said working-class people are suffering the most in the society.

“When we examine what has been happening, we recognise that it is the ordinary man, the workers, the unemployed, the sick and infirmed, all of those who are at the lowest strata of the society, those persons are suffering as a result of poor governance.”

He said the situation demanded that the unions unite to fight what they regard as the injustices being perpetrated on average citizens.

“One or two federations alone cannot do it, so we have decided that we are coming together.”

Roget, who is also JTUM president, argued covid19 is no excuse for the treatment being meted out to workers.

“We can do much better given the resources we have but it is the bad policy position of the Government that has us in this mess.

“Today we are plagued with falling revenues and declining resources all because of bad policy positions.”

OWTU president general Ancel Roget speaks with members of the union at the Store Bay carpark in Crown Point prior to Sunday’s motorcade. – DAVID REID

Roget claimed the Government’s policy is “to tax everybody as if they are insane and put the noose around the necks of the ordinary man in the street.

“We are against that. So, our campaign here is to defend workers interest in TT

He declined to say what will be their next move.

“But, rest assured, there are many different moves that we are going to be implementing.”

Seamen and Waterfront Workers’ Trade Union president general Michael Annisette said workers are a key element in reviving the economy and should be regarded as such.

“Our survival would only be so good if we have wage-led growth and job-led sustainability,” he said.

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“In other words, if there is no proper wages, terms and conditions of employment for workers, our economy can never turn around.”

Annisette argued retrenchment is never a solution to the economic woes confronting a country.

“Those who peddle the failed economic policy that to retrench workers is the salvation and solution of all the economic woes, those who peddle the idea that to shut down WASA and to marginalise the union and the workers will make WASA better, those who peddle the whole general idea that to privatise the port and TTEC and the daily workers jobs, they have a mistake.”

He added: “Let us debunk the idea that retrenching people is the solution. That is not the solution.

Annisette, who is also NATUC’s general secretary, said capital and labour must go hand in hand.

NATUC leader Watson Duke said the PNM Government must go.

“We have come to call for a new election to give whoever presents themselves to serve the people of Trinidad and Tobago a new mandate,” he said.

“We are clear, they are beyond redemption. They are beyond conversation. They are beyond licks.”

He said the Government has rejected opportunities to work with the trade unions in the interest of workers.

“We put before them the workers’ agenda, they ignored it. They use it as toilet paper. They rubbish it.

“We came together in NTAC (National Tripartite Advisory Council). But it was talk. Whenever we meet them is talk and talk and talk. We are tired of talking.”

Duke said joblessness has made citizens frustrated.

“It is time that we unite and fight.”

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[Photos: Newsday TT]
PSA president Watson Duke (center) with members of various trade unions show solidarity as they gather at the Store Bay carpark in Crown Point before the start of a motorcade on Sunday. David Reid – Newsday TT]
OWTU president general Ancel Roget speaks with members of the union at the Store Bay carpark in Crown Point prior to Sunday’s motorcade. David Reid – Newsday TT]

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