Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 20th 2016 Contents A5
Monday, June 20, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
yesterday paid tribute to labour
leaders past and present who have
contributed to the growth and
development of T&T.
In his Labour Day message,
Rowley said he fully expect all sec-
tors of society, will continue to
work together to better the coun-
try s circumstances in the future.
"The Government is fully cog-
nisant of the important role played
by the labour movement through
its representation of the interests
"Moreover, we exist in an envi-
ronment where all of us, govern-
ment, civil society, private sector
and labour are inextricably linked
and dependent on one another for
survival and our success.
"Recognition of this is a major
breakthrough in helping us navigate
our present circumstance and
improve the lives of our citizens,"
"Though doing this will by no
means be easy, I am reminded of
the words of the Black Stalin, We
can make it if we try. This, in
essence, was the message of Tubal
Uriah "Buzz" Butler, Adrian Cola
Rienzi, Arthur Andrew Cipriani
and many other labour leaders
throughout our history.
"They set about to positively
impact on existing circumstances
and as a result impacted upon our
nation," Prime Minister Rowley
Also sending Labour Day greet-
ings was the T&T Chamber of
Industry and Commerce which said
the labour movement has success-
fully defended, protected and advo-
cated for workers rights and the
national interest from then to now.
"The pivotal role the movement
has played and continues to play
in the entire industrial relations
eco-system is clearly documented
in our nation s socio-economic
From Cipriani to Rienzi and But-
ler, a number of great leaders and
personalities have emerged over
the years---all of whom have done
yeoman s service in their approach
to social dialogue, justice and equi-
ty," the Chamber said.
The group reiterated its com-
mitment to the consultative
approach to labour relations as ini-
tiated by the T&T government
through the National Tri-partite
For the second straight year, members of the
National Trade Union Centre (Natuc) were blocked
by police from marching to Charlie King Junction,
Fyzabad, during Labour Day celebrations yester-
This year, police officers in riot gear formed a bar-
ricade across the roadway, effectively ending Natuc s
procession at around 1 pm as the group crested Lum
Tack Hill in Fyzabad.
Secretary general Michael Annisette, who spoke
workers with a microphone, brought the march to
a halt and said the police had stopped his vehicle
from going any further.
Less than 200 metres away at Charlie King Junction,
leaders of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM)
could be heard addressing workers.
Annisette spent some time speaking with the offi-
cers, telling them they could not prevent his members
from entering Charlie King Junction in remembrance
of labour leader Tubal Uriah "Buzz" Butler.
Surrounded by members, a defiant Annisette later
told the T&T Guardian the labour group was being
targeted by those in power.
"They are saying we can t pass here because we
wasn t in some stakeholder meeting, but we would
have written to them three weeks ago telling them
the route we will be passing," he said.
"And as I pointed out to the senior officer, there
is a historical antecedent about Fyzabad and if you
deny us the right to march through Fyzabad, it s
serves no purpose coming to Fyzabad, you are destroy-
ing the concept of what the Fyzabad march means
"You allow one group to go so and then tell us
have to go another route. No, that cannot be so."
Annisette said the presence of a few dozen armed
heavily-armed officers accompanying Natuc s leg of
the Labour Day march was reminiscent of anti-
apartheid marches in South Africa.
"We have a concern in Natuc that we are here on
a peaceful march and look at how many armed police
have come out and are marching in front of us. That
conveys an impression that we are in South Africa,
when Mandela was fighting for apartheid.
DUKE IT OUT
"I don t mind police coming, but what is the need
for all of this tear gas and those kind of machine
guns...big, big guns, against workers? Come on! And
there are children in the march too."
He claimed the move was an attempt to destabilise
"This is the only union being treated in this manner.
Fyzabad is a public place, Fyzabad is not the domain
of any one public group or federation...I am a citizen
of T&T and if I am denied the right to march through
Fyzabad on this Labour Day, this tells me that we
are going back into the 19th century."
However, the police officers did not budge and
Natuc members eventually compromised by leaving
their music truck and banners behind and walking
to Charlie King Junction in pairs flanked by heavily
armed officers who cleared a path through the crowds
for them to pass, one at a time.
Members of Team Phoenix with a bobolee of PSA president Watson Duke in Fyzabad during Labour Day
celebrations. The group is a faction of the union which does not support Duke. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
Natuc blocked at
Charlie King Junction
PM pays tribute
to labour leaders
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
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