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Media Releases

These are the Media releases recently issued by the Union and other organisations/people..

CWU: WE WILL NOT COMPROMISE OUR INDEPENDENCE

posted 29 Aug 2015, 22:12 by Gerry Kangalee

On August 28, 2015 the Communication Workers Union (CWU) issued the following statement:

The Communication Workers' Union (CWU) would like to give clarification to its absence from the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the JTUM, the PNM and the ILP.

The CWU wishes to remind the nation that on Friday 23rd September 2009, late in the evening, on the eve of the celebration of Republic Day, the CWU was issued with a notice that an application was made to the Industrial Court to have the Union DECERTIFIED as the Recognized Majority Union for both the Senior and Junior Staff Bargaining Units at the Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago, TSTT.

This action was publicly supported by the Minister of Labour in the then PNM Administration, Mr. Rennie Dumas. This application was made on the heels of TSTT taking action against seventy-five (75) Employees of the Company who, in the face of obscene disrespect by a disrespectful Foreign Chief Executive Officer at that time, Mexican, Roberto Peon, took legitimate action in furtherance of a Dispute over the Company's blatant refusal to settle their long outstanding Wage Negotiations.

Up to this time, the Union still has an outstanding Dispute at the Industrial Court with respect to sixty-eight (68) of those Workers who were ILLEGALLY SUSPENDED and whose illegal suspension was not lifted by the then Government nor the TSTT Management. This DECERTIFICATION effort was staved off by the collective efforts of the Joint Trade Union Movement in a massive Protest Action that eventually saw the Company and the then PNM Government relent under the strength of a United Labour Movement. Up to this day, the CWU has not received an apology or have even been shown any kind of remorse by the PNM who formed the Government of the day for what can only be described as the most heinous attack against a Trade Union.

While we have successfully and progressively soldiered on, we are ever mindful of the events of September 2009. Subsequent to that, the CWU made overtures to the Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley in an effort to garner support for our battle at TSTT against a corrupt Board, Management and Foreign Partner, Cable and Wireless, all in an effort to ensure the survival of our prized national asset TSTT.

To date our efforts were never even acknowledged. As a progressive and Independent Working Class Institution, we are wary of those who befriend the Labour Movement in order to hold the reins of power. We are reminded of the events of 2010 wherein progressive elements of the Labour Movement extended support for the Movement for Social Justice (M.S.J) as a signatory to the Fyzabad Accord which gave birth to the People's Partnership. This in effect demonstrated to many of our citizens, a show of support for the People's Partnership by the Labour Movement. What transpired since is well known to all.

We have seen the blatant betrayal of the Labour Movement by "This Most Corrupt People's Partnership Government, led by Kamla Persad Bissessar". We have even seen an attempt to fundamentally alter the Employer/Employee Relationship and by extension the Industrial Relations Environment through the ill-timed and ill conceived nefarious Industrial Relations Amendment Bill 2015, ironically piloted by a former Labour Stalwart, Errol McLeod, in his capacity as Labour Minister. All these were direct attacks against the Trade Union Movement.

With respect to the ILP, any association with that Party raises the question of Integrity and Credibility based on numerous local, regional and international allegations of Corruption surrounding the leadership of this party, headed by the colorful Austin Jack Warner.

As a Working Class Movement we have long been singing the refrain "I would want to be in that number when those who labour hold the reins of Power". In that regard the CWU is of the view that affiliation and association with these Traditional Political Parties will not promote that objective.

What we have seen presented in the MOU and respective Manifestos of those Parties do not give any comfort to the CWU and the Trade Union Movement. What we have seen reflected in the MOU and those Manifestos are surface measures that do not go deep to the root of the perennial problems that confront the Working Class in our Country, particularly in these challenging and frightening economic times.

There are no definitive and convincing policy proposals that suggest that the relationship with Labour and the policies that impact on the lives of the Working Class and ordinary citizens would be any different to what has been existing over the years. As a matter of fact, it seems that it would be worse off given what has been articulated in those Manifestos.

We have even seen the resurfacing of the dreaded Revenue Authority, which when introduced by the then PNM Government, resulted in the arrest of Comrade David Abdulah in a manner that sent frightening signals of Fascism to Trade Union Leaders. As such, as a Progressive Working Class Institution, we wish to state that it is imperative for us all to understand that the historical mission of the Working Class, which was started by the Butlerites, is yet to be completed.

So as one of the Trade Unions which is rich in the history of the Butlerite Movement, the CWU must be part of that mission as we seek control of our own political and economic destiny in Trinidad and Tobago. In the circumstances the CWU wishes to maintain its independence as an organization and as such, we feel emboldened in our position to absent ourselves from these recent developments. We however remain a part of the Joint Trade Union Movement at this time as we maintain our commitment for GENUINE LABOUR UNITY in Trinidad and Tobago; but we wish to state that we will at no time COMPROMISE OUR INDEPENDENCE AS A PROGRESSIVE WORKING CLASS INSTITUTION. We however remain committed to the struggle for those who labour to hold the reins of power. For that, We Dare to Struggle!

NHWU EXPOSES SEX ATTACK AT MOUNT HOPE

posted 17 Aug 2015, 20:52 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 17 Aug 2015, 21:28 ]

The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) has been reliably informed of a brutal sexual attack on an innocent 18 year old visitor at the Mount Hope medical facility just after 9.00 am over the last weekend.

We are advised that she was lured to one of the toilets in the corridor where the perpetrator began his vicious attack. She was saved from his full onslaught after her screams were reported by other visitors to the in-house security who rescued her. This is the same facility gunmen stormed earlier this year and the Minister of Health publicly stated that employees should stand their ground and protect the patients.

The union is aware that there have been many lapses in the security system at the facility. Numerous vehicles have been stolen within recent months and other attacks on members of staff and visitors have been reported. The response of the management of the facility has been to attempt to suppress all information about these incidents rather than deal effectively with their failed security systems. This state of affairs is not unique to the Mount Hope facility but is quite common throughout the RHA’s.

The NHWU is inundated by reports of corruption in the award of contracts throughout the health sector and many of them include questionable deals in security. Fingers have been pointed at very senior officials being involved. Delinquent contractors have their contracts being constantly renewed and glaring deficiencies in tendering and awarding of contracts are quite normal.

The NHWU brings this to the public’s attention so that they can better appreciate the plight that health care professionals face daily in trying to provide quality health care to the population. The authorities desperately attempt to continuously lay the blame for the chaos at our health facilities at the feet of the hard working professionals at these institutions. However their culpability is inescapable. For example, the NHWU has warned the management at SWRHA about a situation which we fear will lead to incidents similar to that which occurred at Mount Hope over the weekend.

At the San Fernando General Hospital there are wards where staff and patients, male and females share the same toilet facility. The Cardiac ward is one such location which we have brought to the attention of management but to no avail. Female patients and staff are often traumatized when they are followed by male “Visitors” while using the washrooms.

The NHWU deems it our duty to alert the users of the public health facilities about the negligent attitude of the management of the RHAs to ensuring their safety and the safety of their employees.

The NHWU also warns the management of the RHAs that the longest rope has an end and that health workers will not tolerate for much longer the arrant disrespect by their employers that is manifested in all areas of the workers-management relationship and in particular the lack of concern for the safety and welfare of health workers. To be forewarned is to be forearmed!

NHWU URGES HOWAI TO PAY END OF AUGUST

posted 7 Aug 2015, 15:48 by Gerry Kangalee

The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) wrote the following letter to the Minister of Finance, Larry Howai:

2015-08-07

Senator, the Honourable Larry Howai
Minister of Finance and the Economy
Eric Williams Finance Building
Independence Square,
Port of Spain


Dear Sir,
The National Health Workers’ Union (NHWU) is one of the three (3) trade unions that are representing monthly paid health workers employed by the five (5) Regional Health Authorities (RHA’s). Only two of the three can obtain Recognised Majority Union status which would allow for wage and all other negotiations and the NHWU is the only one organizing across all categories of monthly-paid staff. We now have hundreds of RHA employees in our membership.

The NHWU has noted with keen interest statements attributed to you via various media houses in relation to salary adjustments for those workers and we wish to make the following observations/comments.

1) You are cited as saying that the monthly rated staff will receive their salary increases by September 2015 and resulting retroactive payments by November 2015. We have consulted with our membership and they find this to be totally unacceptable.

The period being addressed is 1st January 2011 to 31st December 2013. This means that the last period for which these workers would have had a salar
y increase would be January 1st 2010. These workers have been subsisting on 2010 salaries for more than five years and most importantly they have not had any increases for the entire life of the current administration. This is quite contrary to the boasts of you and your Cabinet colleagues. This, the NHWU, holds will be a grave indictment on you and your administration should you demit office without addressing the just entitlements of these workers who are conveniently described as being “ESSENTIAL”, but not treated as being essential.

2) Your suggested dates pose another problem. The upcoming elections and the inherent uncertainties obviously present some concerns. More importantly, the NHWU is concerned about strength of commitments made when they are not fulfilled within the fiscal year in which they are made. Will the new administration (regardless of party) be bound to adhere to them in the formulation of its budgetary allocations? Budgets have to be approved by Parliament; will  the new parliamentarians be bound by your commitments? Our concerns are heightened when you are cited in the Daily Express dated 2015/08/07 thus: ‘Howai said in some cases, an appropriation for the funding would have to be made “after parliament is reconvened” (after the general election).’

Our members are very concerned that because there is no recognized majority union in the RHAs and consequently no collective agreement that can legally bind the government to fulfilling that which it has promised, and because of government’s track record of not fulfilling its promises to the labour movement, this latest “promise” is being used to lull them into a mood of complacency. Rest assured that this will not happen and our members are quite prepared to do all that is necessary to defend and advance their quest for equity and justice and against discrimination.

3) The NHWU has seen documents provided by very reliable sources which indicate that at least some senior management personnel have received retroactive pay and salary increases. This we find to be crass and a slap in the face of the overworked and underpaid non-managerial monthly-paid staff that management will gorge themselves full and leave their charges in the wilderness. This is particularly galling seeing negotiations for public officers were concluded in March. There is absolutely no excuse for not being able to pay the workers in a timely fashion.

4) The NHWU wonders if you are aware of the plight of retirees of the RHA’s. Do you know that some of them who would have worked there from their inception and have now retired are in receipt of pensions ranging between $800.00-1000.00 per month? Some will get some temporary relief from these payments; do you think it is fair that they should line up and wait
behind the senior managers for payment?

5) The NHWU has been advised by key personnel in the Finance and Payroll departments that both the implementation of the new rates and the computation of back pay can be processed by August 31st. We have been advised that all that is required is the instruction and release of monies.

You would no doubt be aware that these workers who have been extremely patient over the last five (5) years have now become quite restive. The NHWU is very concerned that their frustrations will overflow into areas that will benefit no one. We urge that you and your Cabinet colleagues urgently review you position and have the increases effected by this month’s end.

The NHWU is willing, able and prepared to assist in an amicable resolution to these issues.


Sylvan Wilson for
General Secretary

NHWU: RHA WORKERS MUST BEWARE OF POLITICAL GAMES

posted 11 Jul 2015, 06:50 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 11 Jul 2015, 06:54 ]

On 2015-07-10, the National Health Workers Union (NHWU) issued the following statement

 RHA WORKERS MUST BEWARE OF POLITICAL GAMES

Monthly paid employees of the Regional Health Authorities have been operating under growing pressure, not having enjoyed a wage increase since 2010. These workers are not represented by a recognised majority union and, therefore, do not have a collective agreement with their employers.

 Over the years the practice has been that the Regional Health Authorities would apply whatever percentage increase has been negotiated between the Chief Personnel Officer and the union representing public servants. RHA employees are not public servants and are not covered by the term and conditions enjoyed by public servants. While the RHAs have applied the wage increases, they are not legally obligated to do so.

 There have been many rumours that the RHAs are reluctant to apply the 14% increase recently negotiated on behalf of public servants and this naturally has caused great unease among RHA employees. More than four months have gone by yet the RHAs have not said if or when the salary increase will be paid.

The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) has learned that the North Central Regional Health Authority and the Eastern Regional Health Authority have issued memoranda to their respective staffs claiming to have begun preparatory work to facilitate the implementation of the increase.

We, therefore, fully expect those RHAs to institute the increase expeditiously and further call upon the South West Regional Health Authority, the Tobago Health Authority and the North West Regional Health Authority to announce that they are following suit. We, further, expect all the RHAs to announce the dates of payment of the increase.

 The NHWU will tolerate no delaying tactics on the part of the RHAs and will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that employees of the RHAs are treated in a just and fair manner.

The National Health Workers Union cautions RHA employees not to be suckered into becoming pawns in a cynical political game which is scheduled to take place on Monday 13th July under the pretext of calling upon the Minister of Health to sign some bogus agreement to pay the salary increase.

Let us be clear: no collective agreement has been negotiated on behalf of the monthly paid employees of any of the RHAs. The Minister of Health, therefore, cannot sign a non-existent agreement.

Even if, the monthly paid workers of the RHAs were the beneficiaries of a collective agreement negotiated on their behalf by a recognised majority union, the Minister of Health would not be authorised to sign that collective agreement. He has no standing in the matter. The representatives of the individual RHAs would be the correct persons to sign.

The NHWU, again, warns health workers to be wary of the game scheduled to be played out on Monday July 13th which is designed to fool them and members of the public into believing that their wage increase is dependent on a script prepared by one politician seeking to return to office and another seeking to join the ranks of political hustlers whose only concern is to eat a food at the expense of public funds. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sylvan Wilson, Executive Officer National Workers Union 758 8933

NHWU: NO GAMES! WAGE INCREASES NOW! ORGANISE FOR RMU STATUS!

posted 8 Jul 2015, 19:58 by Gerry Kangalee

The following statement was published by the National Health Workers Union. It is dated 2015/07/09:

NO GAMES! WAGE INCREASES NOW! ORGANISE FOR RMU STATUS!

Comrades, all the RHAs are in great confusion about the status of our salary increases. Rumours run wild about whether we will be getting any increases in salary and if so when. Public Servants have negotiated a 14% salary increase. It is being implemented now and all employees of the Ministry of Health are being paid.

We, the monthly paid employees of the RHAs, have been misled for years into believing that Public Officers’ negotiations were also RHA negotiations and agreements arrived between the Chief Personnel Officer and the PSA were binding on the RHAs. The NHWU has been at pains advising health workers that this is not so. RHA employees are not public officers! Neither the Minister of Finance nor his agent, the CPO, is our employer and consequently cannot negotiate or agree to terms and conditions applicable to us.

In the NHWU’s bulletin “Get Organised” dated 10th September 2014 we explained the legal provisions in the Industrial Relations Act (Section 38 [4]) which debars the PSA from achieving Recognised Majority Union (RMU) status for health workers. The PSA, therefore, cannot negotiate salaries, allowances, pensions, health plan, performance appraisals etc. for us. If the majority of health workers do not join a union which can achieve RMU status then the Master and Servant relationship that exists between the RHAs and us will persist.

The NHWU explained why the RHAs grant increases negotiated by the PSA to us. Those who were formerly employed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and transferred to the RHA’s and those who were seconded from the MOH continue to be represented by the PSA (Regional Health Authority Act Sect 31). Those persons work alongside RHA employees and it would be untenable to have two persons doing the same job and getting different rates. Therefore, the Authorities extended the salary increases to us, their employees. However they were never legally obligated to do so. In the early days there were hundreds of former MOH employees; today they number just a handful. Soon there will be none and the contradiction will no longer exist.

This situation is now fully exposed by the apparent refusal of the Minister of Health and the RHAs to sign off on any document pledging to increase health workers salaries. If there was any legally enforceable agreement (such as a collective agreement) between the PSA and the RHAs there would be no need to beg or protest. All the PSA would have had to do was refer the agreement to the Industrial Court which would order its immediate implementation or the RHA’s would be fined for contempt of Court. This cannot happen because there is no legally enforceable collective agreement.

What is even more pathetic is the claim by the leader of the PSA that the Minister of Health was influenced not to sign because the NHWU is organising health workers. During the 1990’s, the then-NAR government removed COLA and cut public officers’ salary by ten (10%). This was done in Parliament by a government with a thirty-three to three majority. The very PSA challenged this in the courts and won, relying on the power of having a signed and registered agreement. Today they are saying that the Minister vetoed their “agreement”. If that outlandish statement is true, then they can repeat history, can’t they?

Comrades, the NHWU expects that we will be paid the fourteen (14%) per cent and all retroactive payments. This expectation is based on a memo dated July 02 2015 from Kumar Boodram, Chief Executive Officer of the NCRHA to all heads of department at Eric Williams and Mount Hope Women’s Hospital.  

The memo states: “The Human Resource Department has begun preparatory work to facilitate the implementation of the 14% agreement between the Public Services Association and the Chief Personnel Officer and the Doctor’s agreement with MPATT. In order to complete the exercise in a timely manner the Human Resource Department will be accommodating request/queries from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon daily during the period Thursday July 02 2015 to August 31st 2015.” Take note that there is no announced date of implementation, but any games by the Minister and others pretending to settle and sign a bogus agreement must be seen for what it is – GAMES! If the RHAs fail to hold fast to their promise then there must be all out war. We are not afraid of war!

The ironic thing is that on 15th March 2015, more than four months ago, the NHWU wrote to Anil Gosine CEO of SWRHA and called on the Board and management:

1) You urgently implement increases to all monthly rated employees who were employed directly by SWRHA of not less than the amounts publicly stated by the CPO. This we expect should be done no later than April, 2015 month’s end. This must be done expeditiously as these workers have been subsisting on 2010 salaries and this should be corrected immediately.

2) These increases be extended to all categories of “non-permanent” workers, inclusive of those described as temporary, contract (of whatever duration) etc. You are fully aware that most of them have been holding down permanent positions in the establishment for many years.

3) Full retroactive pay for the entire period be made to all employees described in (1) and (2), this should be effected not later than May, 2015 month’s end.

4) Detailed statements to ALL employees indicating (a) the amount of each and every increase in benefits that is to be applied and for each respective year. (b) a breakdown of sums calculated for each benefit for each year for each employee. (c) these statements must be distributed before payments are made so that employees will be able to more accurately calculate their entitlements and be aware of the basis for your calculations."

If these hard-headed political hacks in management had listened to the voice of reason, none of this stupidness would be taking place today.

Why is it after fifteen years the monthly paid health workers don’t have a collective agreement? If we wait another fifteen years doing the same thing will we get one? Do you know that your Daily-Paid colleagues have one? Have you ever heard them wonder whether or when they will get their increases?

Comrades, it is crystal clear that there has been an awful lot of misinformation which was innocent in some cases and quite deliberate in others. There has also been quite a lot of bitterness and acrimony over the years but we cannot let these things define the rest of our lives. Are we prepared to withstand the torment and humiliation that is meted out to so many of us year after year under the guise of Performance Appraisal? Our pension plan is in dire need of upgrade, must we sit idly by and have our retirement result in even greater hardship than during our working life?  

Will we ever have a health plan? Will we continue to have our colleagues who are on contract or temporary exploited after ten and twelve years of continuous employment? Shouldn’t they be afforded the opportunity of being able to plan their lives and even secure a long term loan? All of these benefits must be either negotiated or given to us by the RHA’s; do we think that will happen in our collective lifetimes? Current events prove quite clearly those who have agreements get increases, those without have worry, hope and beg. ANALYSE, DECIDE AND ACT!

Is the sense of vulnerability and despair we are experiencing over the long overdue increases confined to any one category of staff or are we all united in the uncertainty? ANALYSE, DECIDE AND ACT!

Join NHWU and achieve RMU status. Join NHWU and get a Collective Agreement to enhance and secure our rights and benefits. The delivery of consistent quality health care requires just and fair terms and conditions for all health workers and is the business of all categories of workers. NHWU welcome all categories of health workers into our ranks except those represented by recognized majority unions.

2015/07/09

Published and printed by the National Health Workers Union

"Haig Community United" vs Chaguaramas Development Authority by Eugene Reynald

posted 5 Jul 2015, 11:47 by Gerry Kangalee

1. Haig Community United also called the Guave Road Farmers Association is an NGO formed by the Farmers and was represented by Mr Colvin Blaize and Mr Farai Hove Masaisai of Hove & Associates, Attorneys-at-Law. The CDA was represented by Douglas Mendes SC. 

2. The matter was the hearing of an Injunction brought by the Farmers to restrain the Chaguaramas Development Company from destroying crops and property belonging to the Farmers, arresting and assaulting the Farmers and carrying out Development Works on lands in and around Guave Road which the farmers have been working for more than sixty years. The issue of stopping the on going stripping of the Guave Road lands of its valuable top soil and transporting it to areas outside of Chaguaramas in what clearly is a commercial operation was also raised but was not entertained by the Judge.

3. The Injunction was an interim measure pending the hearing of the substantive action in which the Farmers are claiming possessory title to the land by way of adverse possession. Their claim is they have been in possession and control of the lands since the 1950s and in support of this, have produced aerial photography and expert professional evidence going back to this period and submitted affidavits from several persons. They have several other affidavits from persons who were actually farming in the 1960’s and items of evidence which support their claim. Their claim for possessory title does not need all of this evidence so what they have is more than sufficient support for what they seek.

4. The CDA to date have produced no evidence in support of their claim of ownership – and indeed there is evidence to support the fact that their development of lands in Chaguaramas is not being carried out legally or by way of any due process. The farmers are also challenging the CDA’s ownership rights to the land but the Judge was not inclined to hear such during the Injunction.

5. The Court ordered that written submissions be filed with regard to the interim applications made for the injunction and the matter would be heard and a decision made on the injunction on the 29th day of July 2015.

6. A procedural point was raised by Senior Counsel Mendes who stated that the NGO did not have Locus to represent their members. According to the Honourable Justice Frank Seepersad the NGO “Haig Community United” also called the Guave Road Farmers Association was only recently formed and registered as a legal entity and could not alone represent the interest of the Farmers. He ordered that the Claim be amended and all 16 farmers be named as claimants in this matter against the CDA.

7. The Judge refused to restrain the CDA from carrying out its ongoing destruction of the land and the Attorneys for the other side refused to advise his Client to provide such an undertaking. The decision of the Court has therefore allowed an organisation that has not proved its ownership rights to the land to strip and destroy what is considered to be the best agricultural lands in the country. Despite submissions by Learned Counsel for the Farmers that the ongoing destruction of the lands in Chagaramas by the CDA would render any possible decision by the Court in Favour of the farmers useless as the destruction would be irreversible. Heedless of this the Judge adjourned the matter to the 29th day of July despite the Application for the injunction being filed on the 15th day of June 2015 and time being of the essence to prevent the irreversible destruction of the land and the ongoing suffering and loss of the farmers, their families and their communities.

8. The matter is to come up for hearing again on the 29th July and until then the CDA can continue doing what they are doing on the land and to the farmers even though it may turn out that the lands do not belong to the CDA and/or the farmers rights to the lands are upheld in a subsequent matter.

9. If that takes place the actions of the CDA and those directing its agenda will have to be considered crimes and farmers will have to be substantially compensated in several ways by the taxpaying citizens of Trinidad and Tobago – and may very well end up much better off than if they are left on the land. There will also be no one held responsible for the unnecessary expenditure of public money in compensation payments, the destruction of the best agricultural lands in the country, the crimes that will have been committed against the farmers by persons in the CDA including praedial larceny of their crops, larceny of their belongings, the loss of food to the public, untold loss and destruction to communities in the West, etc.

10. Of course despite all the aforementioned and much more, the Law and the CDA’s Lawyer will be satisfied that they have done their respective jobs well and several private sector parties will again have enriched themselves at the expense of the national interest, the Exchequer and the public patrimony.

11. The farmers are not happy with the Orders of the Court or with the procedures it is insisting should be followed. An Appeal can be launched but that will result in further time being given to the CDA to continue with its “activities” - who it should be noted, have not yet proven to the Court that it is acting legally.

12. The obvious conclusion from all the aforementioned is that the farmers are being disadvantaged in all areas and the interest of the State and its citizens are being put at risk in several respects.

13. Justice Must Not Just be Done but Must Also be Seen to Be Done.

 

NWU: THE FYZABAD FIASCO EXPLAINED

posted 22 Jun 2015, 21:35 by Gerry Kangalee

THE FYZABAD FIASCO EXPLAINED

2015/06/23

The foolishness that took place at Charlie King Junction on Labour Day confirms the position of the National Workers Union as published in a statement distributed in Fyzabad on June 19th before the agents of destruction took centre stage.


In that statement we said: “many trade union leaders have abandoned the first principles of trade unionism:  class solidarity, mass organisation, collective action, organizational democracy and political education. Instead they have taken the road of collaboration with the employers, the capitalists and the “eat a food, skin up to the highest bidder” politicians in suppressing the aspirations and the interests of their members.


Many trade union leaders have abandoned the route of self reliance and independent organisation and have attached themselves to the gangs of confidence tricksters and political hustlers masquerading as political parties in order to advance their personal interests.”

 

What was the jhanjat at Fyzabad about? Was it about differences in strategy to defeat the growing curse of contract labour that is destroying the prospects of workers in the public service, the state enterprise sector, the statutory authorities sector, the health sector and increasingly in the private sector and which is being used to emasculate unions, particularly the PSA?

 

Was the conflict on June 19th based on differences over how to tackle the growing privatisation/divestment policy of the government which is putting public funds into private purses and reducing the workforce in the public and state enterprise sectors?

 

Was it about how to counter the aggression of the employers in their open attack on workers as exemplified in the TCL strike and the mass dismissal of NP workers?

 

The increasing decibel level in the labour movement has nothing to do with ideology or strategy! It is all about labour leaders currying favour with politicians by using the Unions and workers as collateral for bargaining in pursuit of their personal gain.

 

The Fyzabad fiasco was about some trade union leaders assisting the employers and the political parties in dividing the working class in exchange for a seat in the House or the Senate and for an opportunity to hobnob with those who oppress their members.

 

Our partisan political system is based on dividing the masses along ethnic, religious and regional lines and trade union leaders who eagerly embrace this corrupt and rotten system are conscious or unconscious agents of the employers and the government. Take note: Messrs. Lambert, Abdulah, Duke, Anisette, Indarsingh, Roget, Maharaj! Today some cling to the PNM yesterday it was UNC, but say what, yesterday was yesterday and today is today. Some ally themselves with whoever is in government, though they may have been allied with the defeated party before!

 

While many trade union leaders seek the holy grail of political office, the ability of the unions they lead to perform basic trade union tasks has plummeted disastrously. While they spout divisive and dangerous partisan political rhetoric, they are inefficient, pay no attention to properly training their officers, do no research and are ignorant of industrial relations laws and practices.

 

They have failed to train Union officers, shop stewards and labour officers to efficiently handle disputes at the various levels, have become an embarrassment, are treated with derision and have become the butt of jokes in industrial relations circles.

 

They love to talk about issues of which they do not have a clue, make unfulfilled promises and have become TV and radio talk show trade union leaders. They do not interact with their members, do not encourage discussion and debate, fear criticism and refuse to practise self-criticism. They have no confidence in their members, are insecure in their positions, run the unions like their personal estates, never consult the workers and lead the union from the top down. They do not encourage the practice of democracy.

 

The National Workers Union believes that the very survival of the trade union movement rests in the hands of the younger cohort of shop floor/workplace leaders. These shop stewards and branch officers in the day to day functioning of the unions are the more important than the trade union bureaucrats who sit in their fancy offices, drive their fancy cars and make deals with corrupt politicians and employers in order to advance their personal interests.

 

The workplace leaders of the unions must ask themselves the question why do we tolerate the nonsense that passes for leadership in our unions? Why do we knowingly allow our leaders to engage in practices that are inimical to workers’ interest and do not put a stop to them? Why are we content to allow leaders to operate, free of the checks and balances that exist in the constitution of most unions?

 

It is time to wake up. It is time that workplace union leaders assume their responsibility to their members to take charge of their unions and to ensure that they operate as they were meant to operate – as institutions designed to defend, protect and advance the interests of the working class and not as watchmen for the employers and the State

NHWU: ELEVATOR WOES AT SANDO GENERAL HOSPITAL

posted 21 Jun 2015, 19:16 by Gerry Kangalee

2015-06-21

 ELEVATOR WOES AT SANDO GENERAL HOSPITAL

 

The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) which represents hundreds of health care workers, continues to draw attention to the calamitous state of affairs that exist at the health facilities throughout the country. The latest disastrous example took place at the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) which falls under South West Regional Authority (SWRHA).

There are four elevators located at what is commonly called the “Old Hospital” all of which have been giving problems within recent times. The NHWU has been reliably informed that the service contractor RBP Lifts is owed considerable sums of money so that necessary repairs are on hold. 

One of the four lifts is dedicated to the kitchen for the movement of food and only one (1) of the remaining three is working. On Saturday 20th June, a patient in advanced labour was dropped off at the hospital, not even at the Casualty Department. A Registered Nurse and a Nursing Assistant recognized the urgency of the situation, immediately placed the patient into a wheelchair and attempted to use the lift which would have taken them closest to the Maternity ward, only to find out that it was not working. 

They then had to wheel her down the entire length of the hospital to access the only functional lift.  After getting to the third floor they had to wheel her back up the length of the hospital to where the Maternity ward is located. While on the way the baby was born. It is fortunate for mother and child that because of the experience and competence of the staff present this did not turn out to be a tragedy. The NHWU compliments the hospital staff for their dedication to duty, competence and compassion. 

However, health care continues to be a political football whereby the government and the Minister of Health are more concerned with turning sod and building new facilities while existing ones are literally going to the dogs. 

The incinerator at SFGH is also constantly mal-functioning. This is critical in the disposal of bio hazardous waste; a few months ago the entire “New Hospital” (not the Teaching Hospital) was without air conditioning for weeks including operating theatres. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. The NHWU calls on the Minister to get off the TV and do the job for which he is paid.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sylvan Wilson, Executive Officer National Workers Union 758 8933

NWU:THE POWER OF LABOUR IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHO WINS THE ELECTION!

posted 18 Jun 2015, 20:10 by Gerry Kangalee

2015-06-18

 The National Workers Union (NWU) and its affiliate the National Health Workers Union (NHWU) join with the working people of T&T in celebrating the seventy eighth anniversary of the 1937 anti-colonial general strike and insurrection which gave birth to the trade union movement and paved the way for independence.

While working people have much to celebrate, we must be clear that the rights and entitlements that we enjoy were not given to us by the employers, the capitalists and the government; they were won through hard, sometimes bloody struggles. Some workers lost their livelihoods, their families, their freedom and even their lives so that the rest of us could enjoy a decent quality of life if not a decent standard of living.

While we celebrate this June 19th, there is a profound sense of unease enveloping the organised workers movement that the hard won rights and freedoms that we have are under severe and constant attack by the employers, the capitalists and their enforcers in the government.

Since the structural adjustment programme inflicted upon us by the International Monetary Fund in the late 1980’s and gleefully implemented by successive governments, the trade union movement has been in retreat.

Since 2008 the NWU has been pointing out that many trade union leaders have abandoned the first principles of trade unionism - class solidarity, mass organisation, collective action, organisational democracy and political education. Instead they have taken the road of collaboration with the employers, the capitalists and the “eat a food, skin up to the highest bidder” politicians in suppressing the aspirations and the interests of their members.

Many trade union leaders have abandoned the route of self reliance and independent organisation and have attached themselves to the gangs of confidence tricksters and political hustlers masquerading as political parties in order to advance their personal interests

The employers no longer treat the trade union movement with respect. They laugh at us as we carry out their programme of attacking each other and dividing the working class. They understand that as long as we refuse to rely on our own efforts to build a powerful, democratic, educated, trained and efficient labour movement, we will remain tools of the employers and lap dogs of the political prostitutes in and out of office.

Our leaders seem to have forgotten that the strength of the labour movement is our power over production and our ability to mobilise large numbers of workers to take collective action to advance, protect and defend our interests.

Mobilisation no longer involves going to the workers, informing them and engaging with them in discussion and dialogue in order to seek clarity and to unite around an agreed plan of action. Mobilisation now seems to be about press conferences, sound bites on the TV, and trade union leaders bigging up themselves.

Trade union leaders seem to fear their members. This has resulted in power in the unions being shifted away from the shop floor, from the hands of the shop stewards and branch officers into the hands of bureaucrats at head office.

Trade union leaders no longer command the respect of the masses of working people and the poor. Trade unionists are being seen as opportunist bottom feeders, like lawyers or insurance agents, who are not prepared to sacrifice for the good of their members; who do not have the intestinal fortitude to face up to the power of the employers and the state and to hold the course despite the pressures they may have to endure. Even when trade union leaders were disliked they were respected. This is no longer the case.

We are going into a period of a long election campaign which is designed to divide the working class along the lines of ethnicity, religion and regional lines. After the dust clears, while there may be a different gang of looters of the public purse in place, the working people and the trade union movement will be in the same position they are in today.

Elections don’t disturb the power structure. The power of capital cannot be voted out of existence. It must be dismantled root and branch. Only the organised power of the working class has that potential. 

We repeat a statement we made in 2013: “The task is not to sneak in to the neo-colonial parliament on the backs of one or the other corrupt, capitalist-financed political party but to patiently build a mass movement through working class education, agitation and direct action. When such a movement is built and entrenches itself among the masses, the question of power will become a live issue.” 

The trade union movement has the capacity through the deployment of the power of numbers acting collectively and in solidarity and through its power over production, to ensure whichever party forms the government it cannot afford to ignore the demands of the working people. 

Trade union membership has been shrinking over time. One estimate suggests that just 16% of the labour force is unionised today. Organising the unorganised is the essential task facing the trade union movement. Hundreds of thousands of workers have no experience of union organisation. If we do not organise them, they will weaken the potential power of the working class and they may be used against the organised trade union movement. 

Short term contract labour has taken over the public service and the health sector. The RHA’s exploit workers mercilessly through the use of short term contracts married to an appraisal policy that encourages discrimination and victimisation and is designed to perpetuate a master and servant relationship.

Workplaces are dominated by casual and temporary workers; and young and not so young workers are grievously advantaged under the guise of being OJT’s. Domestic workers are still discriminated against in law; the Industrial Relations Act is still in place; it still takes years to gain a recognition certificate and all political parties are committed to the neo-liberal policy of international capital of wage suppression, deregulation, the dismantling of the public service and privatisation. Elections will not change that reality!

Comrades, we have a lot of work to do, but the capacity to do so can only be built by democratising the trade union movement, developing attitudes and structures where the voice of the rank and file holds sway and their concerns acted upon. 

We must see it as our duty to participate in our own affairs in the branches, the General Councils, the Conferences and the Cossabos and we must appreciate that the union is not the president or general secretary. The trade union is I, You, We all together. How strong and organised the labour movement is, is more important than who wins the next election.

 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer.  Cell: 785-7637)

NWU: TRADE UNIONS MUST UNITE TO DEFEAT IRA AMENDMENT BILL

posted 18 May 2015, 18:28 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 19 May 2015, 04:00 ]

2015-05-18

TRADE UNIONS MUST UNITE TO DEFEAT IRA AMENDMENT BILL


The National Workers Union (NWU) congratulates the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) for the firm and unyielding stand it took in demanding that the government withdraw the Industrial Relations Amendment Bill, which the NWU alerted the nation the government is seeking to pass on Wednesday 20th May. 


The NWU further salutes Senator James Lambert, the President of NATUC and the leader of the largest trade union in the country and a government senator, for taking a clear position that he is prepared to place the interests of the working class above his partisan interest.

The NWU urges NATUC to ensure that the members of their constituent unions are fully informed about the consequences of the Bill. We urge that they be brought into the discussion as to how to defeat the Bill if the government ignores the call of NATUC and the call of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN) to withdraw the Bill and instead seek to consult with the trade unions and other stakeholders before another step in the process is taken.

We, therefore, call on NATUC to encourage its constituent unions to attend the Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch Officers (COSSABO) organised for Monday 25th May at OWTU headquarters in San Fernando.

It is only by presenting a united front and pursuing a common strategy to defeat the Bill that the government will realise that the trade union movement is prepared to move heaven and earth to defend its interests against the naked attack on the very existence of the movement contained in the Bill.

It is noteworthy that the government is prepared to hold its hand on the Cyber Crime Bill at the behest of the Publishers and Broadcasters Association which represents the interests of the media conglomerates, but is quite prepared to treat the urgings of the trade union movement with disdain and scorn.

Far from putting workers at the centre of development as they promised in 2010, the ruling party has privileged the interests of themselves, their financiers, transnational energy corporations and capitalist conglomerates.

The trade union movement in particular and the working class as a whole must learn the lesson that no one will advance, protect and defend their interests but themselves.



WITHDRAW THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS AMENDMENT BILL NOW! 

ONE UNION, ONE STRUGGLE! ALL UNIONS DO BATTLE!

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer.  Cell: 785-7637)

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