Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 19th 2016 Contents A7
Saturday, March 19, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Scores of members of the various trade
unions staged a noisy demonstration out-
side the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM)
yesterday, calling on Government to ensure
the rights of workers were properly pro-
tected, even in the face of retrenchment.
Led by Joint Trade Union Movement
(JTUM) leaders Ancel Roget they gathered
at Nelson Mandela Park in Port-of-Spain
before marching to the Office of the Prime
Minister (OPM) in St Clair.
A letter was then delivered to an official
of OPM which stated that Government must
honour its promise to protect the labour
Singing "solidarity forever," and carrying
placards criticising the move by various
companies to retrench hundreds of employ-
ees, including those of ArcelorMittal, workers
demanded Government heed their plight.
Roget said too many workers had been
retrenched within recent weeks, adding that
in most cases without any benefits.
Urging that legislation must be put in
place to prevent this, Roget said, "The issue
of workers being guaranteed protection...
because the law does not protect them.
"We resolve to make a very strong call
for the amendment of the Retrenchment
and Severance Benefits Act so that workers
who are being retrenched or if a company
decides to wind up and open under another
name... those workers would be paid their
"Employers must not see as their first
option to maintain profits by sending workers
home," Roget said.
He said workers who were laid off years
ago still had not received their just dues to
The Memorandum of Understanding
which was signed between JTUM and the
then Opposition PNM was not being hon-
oured by some government ministers, Roget
But he said Labour Minister Jennifer Bap-
tiste-Primus was not one of these.
"The Labour Minister has been diligently
working and crafting a way forward. But
that way going forward will not see the light
of day if she did not have the support of
her Cabinet colleagues.
"We have challenges with government
ministers who are not honouring the MOU
by refusing to meet and treat with the
unions," Roget said.
On specific ministers who were refusing
to meet with unions he said these were the
ministers of agriculture and planning.
Regarding this country s high food import
bill, the union leader said it was time local
farmers be given top priority not only to
bring about food security but also to ensure
foreign exchange was available.
"There was a call by the Supermarkets
Association for more foreign exchange but
what he should have called for was for more
local farmers producing food," Roget said.
He said JTUM also wanted to discuss with
Prime Minister Keith Rowley ways of assist-
ing in saving jobs given the tough economic
"Workers ought not to pay the price that
they have been forced to pay at this point
"For instance the banks who would have
lured workers to take huge loans and now
we have the same banks going after these
workers...insisting they pay their instalments
in the face of not having a job," Roget said.
Unions call on PM
Honour promise to protect workers
JTUM president Ancel Roget, right, is cautioned by a police officer at the start of a protest at
the Office of the Prime Minister, yesterday. Looking on, at left, is general secretary of the
Oilfields Workers' Trade Union Ozzi Warwick and president general of the Banking Insurance
and General Workers' Trade Union, Vincent Cabrera. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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