Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 20th 2017 Contents A10 news
guardian.co.tt Tuesday, June 20, 2017
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Union boss seeks alternative political vehicle
T&T's two main political par-
ties---the People's National Move-
ment (PNM) and the United Na-
tional Congress (UNC)---came
under heavy criticism yesterday
from the president general of the
All Trinidad General Workers
Trade Union (ATGWTU), Nir-
van Maharaj during the union's
separate Labour Day celebrations
in Couva yesterday.
The event kicked off with a march
of trade unionists from Couva to the
union's headquarters at Rienzi Com-
plex, Mc Bean.
Maharaj, who just one month ago
underwent open heart surgery, was
fiery as he addressed his supporters
as he questioned where both the PNM
and UNC "what has gone wrong."
Maharaj said both political parties,
when in government, failed the coun-
try miserably and gave no justice to
"Today I can speak of many things,
I could speak of the fact that this
country is on the brink of collapse.
That we are living in troubled times.
That we are in economic dire straits,
that thousands are being retrenched,
that the pressures are being felt by
everyone," Maharaj said.
"We must be aware because today
our nation is in crisis, a crisis built on
the foundation of the Patrick Man-
ning regime, followed by the Kamla
Persad-Bissessar regime, and then
the Keith Rowley regime, UNC and
PNM two sides of the same coin, con-
demning us to live in a nation filled
with insecurity, corruption, poverty,
unemployment, high food prices, a
failing educational system, a health
sector in crisis, and if this was not
enough, property tax now," he said.
The ATGWTU, over the years have
mainly represented sugar workers
and keeping on the topic. Maharaj
spoke of the sugar workers, who
worked at the defunct Caroni (1975)
Ltd, who were retrenched 14 years ago
and some are still waiting on their
"Can you imagine Clarence Ramb-
harat (the present Agriculture Minis-
ter) speaking as though sugar workers
were retrenched yesterday and not 14
years ago, and having the audacity
and impunity to ask ex-Caroni work-
ers to have patience for a severance
package legally entitled to them 14
years now? Is he serious?" Maharaj
"I mean how more obscene, vul-
gar and disgraceful can you get. And
to top it off after five years in power
with a 29 seat majority the UNC is
now asking the PNM, what about
ex-Caroni workers VSEP package.
How much more hypocritical can
the UNC get," he asked.
According to Maharaj, 116 workers
are still waiting to be reimbursed the
monies owed to them by the Sugar
Welfare Committee, "this poor ex-
cuse for an Agricultural Minister,
with a straight face, can tell these
people they have to wait until a Board
is appointed. So if a board is never
appointed they will never be paid."
He said the conditions at the Mora
Valley Farm was unsafe and he has
learned that there are plans to shut
down the Sugar Cane Feed Centre,
an entity that contributes valuable
research and production in the fish-
ing and livestock sector.
"Now we are hearing rumours
that the PNM want to shut down
here too. Destroy everything that is
working well, so you can make the
whole country dependent on political
patronage and handouts to survive.
That is the vision of the PNM," Ma-
The Employers' Consultative Association
(ECA) said as T&T celebrates its 44th Labour
Day celebration, the country is facing"turbulent
In a media release, the ECA said in looking back
at the genesis of this movement, it is important to
acknowledge the significant progress that has been
made for the representation and advancement of the
rights of workers.
"Even as our beloved nation is plagued with very
challenging and extremely turbulent circumstances,
the world of work continues to undergo rapid trans-
formation primarily influenced by the impact of the
technological revolution and increasing globalisa-
tion. This includes the use of robotics, digitisation,
the opening up of markets, changing organisational
structures and increasing competition at the firm and
The ECA said that dialogue among all the stake-
holders in the country is important to face the difficult
"Quite naturally, therefore, the conversation be-
tween tripartite partners has to change in ways that
will significantly reduce the current levels of antag-
onism fuelled by mistrust and lack of respect. More
importantly, we must move the conversation to one
where parties are determined and committed to come
to the table with a common understanding as to what
actions will be in the national interest of our future."
The ECA called on the trade union movement to
join the join tripartite discussions for the good of the
country. "It is against this background and history of
collective effort that the ECA makes this open appeal
to our comrades in the labour movement to reconsider
their boycott of the National Tripartite Advisory Coun-
cil (NTAC). The ECA therefore remains optimistic that
we will truly come together with a renewed collective
effort towards a stronger and more resilient T&T."
This year's theme for Labour Day will be "80 years
of struggle and sacrifices of the labour movement in
service of Trinidad and Tobago."
"This year the OWTU celebrates 80 years this year.
The reason we are still so strong is because of the vast
inequality in the country. Some businesses do not
want to pay NIS or the minimum wage, workers are on
contract labour, some do not get COLA, some workers
are fired who try to unionise. This is not 1937, this
is 2017, yet these conditions exist," Ozzi Warwick of
the OWTU said.
Members of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union during their
Labour Day march along the Southern Main Road, Couva, yesterday.
PHOTO: SHASTRI BOODAN
PNM, UNC failed ex-sugar workers
Changing face of
world of work---ECA
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