Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 12th 2013 Contents KHARA PERSAD
Over 40 protesters, representing about ten trade
unions under the umbrella body of the Joint Trade
Union Movement (JTUM), yesterday called for
the removal of the Registration, Recognition and
Certification Board chairman Wayne Smart.
The unionists held their placard demonstration
outside the Industrial Court, St Vincent Street,
Port-of-Spain, yesterday afternoon.
They also called for a thorough review and over-
haul of the slow recognition process for unions
applications before the board to represent work-
ers.President general of the Oilfields Workers Trade
Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget protested with fellow
union members, singing "chairman Smart must go
away" repeatedly for about 45 minutes.
In an interview, Roget said the JTUM was con-
cerned about the board s operational problems,
which translated into workers being denied proper
representation by unions.
"The board is a law unto itself and the process
itself is onerous and complicated and therefore it
denies workers the right to be recognised by specific
trade unions of their choosing," he said, standing
on the front steps of the Industrial Court.
Workers are entitled under law to join trade
unions of their choice and the board is responsible
for processing applications to certify that relation-
ship. However, Roget explained the board took years
to process applications causing workers with issues
to suffer, since they would remain unrepresented.
Roget said he was singling out Smart in particular,
calling for his immediate removal.
He said the JTUM had sent two letters to the
board about the delay in the process but were
ignored by Smart whom he described as "dismis-
sive" and a "runaway chairman."
He added: "We wrote to the chairman requesting
this meeting and he has continuously disregarded
"You are talking about the Joint Trade Union
Movement who represents workers in this country
and he has consistently disregarded the call to meet
and to discuss and to identify those problems and
to have them resolved."
Nirvan Maharaj, president of the All Trinidad
General Workers Trade Union (ATGWTU), who
also marched yesterday, said perhaps the reason
Smart continued to ignore the unions was because
he had become "a bit too comfortable.
"Sometimes when you are in positions of author-
ity you sometimes forget those who are below you
and those who depend on you. And what the chair-
man does not understand is that the longer he takes
to issue a certificate, there are more and more work-
ers outside there who are suffering," he added.
Smart could not be reached for comment yes-
Roget stressed it was a problem faced by trade
unions across the board as they had continually
been thwarted in their application process to rep-
resent workers who needed it.
The process was so onerous and lengthy, Roget
said, that by the time recognition was certified,
the workers might no longer be at the company or
the company no longer existed.
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chairman under fire
"Turn yourself in and do the right
So said Arrive Alive president Sharon
Inglefield yesterday as she joined with
relatives of hit-and-run victim Clint
Marc Stephen Sookhan in pleading
with the driver of the black pick-up
that killed him to surrender to the
Sookhan, 19, was one of six people
killed on Sunday in separate accidents
in various parts of T&T.
He had just got out of his car, which
had crashed near the Caroni flyover,
when he was struck by the pickup and
died on the spot. The driver of the
pickup did not stop.
Speaking in a telephone interview
yesterday Inglefield described the six
road deaths as "really tragic."
She said Sookhan s case was par-
ticularly difficult since the teenager
was saved by the barrier when his car
crashed only to be struck by an oncom-
ing car that was "obviously driving
above the speed limit, as well as the
fact that he may have been under the
She added: "He did not see the col-
lision, he did not see the vehicle in the
middle of the highway and therefore
did not see the occupant when he
veered out of the vehicle.
"I appeal to him to come forward.
Sometimes these things are an accident
but he needs to come forward to the
authorities and turn himself in and do
the right thing because it is the right
thing to do."
Yesterday an autopsy by Prof Hubert
Daisley at the San Fernando General
Hospital s mortuary showed Sookhan
died from broken ribs, a crushed skull
and massive internal injuries.
Sookhan s uncle, Hayden Joseph,
said the doctors said the injuries were
caused by a high-velocity impact.
He said he asked if Sookhan sus-
tained the injuries in the first crash
and was told no.
He also was told there was no way
the teenager would have been able to
walk with those injuries. Sookhan could
not have received those injuries if he
had stumbled backward onto the high-
Joseph said Sookhan s parents---
Clarence and Seeta---were not taking
their son s death well.
Seeta, he said, had to be sedated to
keep her calm, while Clarence was
barely speaking to anyone.
He urged drivers to be cautious on
Investigations are continuing.
The board is authorised by the Industrial
Relations Act to determine whether an
application made by a union to represent a group
of workers is accepted or rejected.
It must investigate whether the claim
represents more than 51 per cent of the
workforce, and whether they have been
members of the union for at least eight weeks
since the claim was made.
While the Industrial Relations Act does not
specify a timeframe for the application process, it
says: "The board shall expeditiously determine all
applications for certification brought before it."
ABOUT THE BOARD
Arrive Alive to hit-and-run driver:
Stephen Cadiz and
Griffith to express
her concerns after
the multiple road fatalities over the
A statement on the Arrive Alive
Facebook page said discussions were
held to help develop a short-term
action plan and made suggestions on
areas to be urgently addressed.
Among the suggestions by Arrive
Alive were meeting with the Minister
of Tertiary Education to discuss the
driving instructors' qualifications to
train and educate novice drivers,
thereby making the new generation
of drivers more competent.
Additionally, the organisation
suggested defensive driving training
should made mandatory and include
The Arrive Alive team also
suggested the police should develop
an action plan to include more
routine patrols, especially on Fridays
Inglefield appealed to the authorities
to revamp the Motor Vehicular Road
Traffic Act to ensure drivers become
more competent on the roads.
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