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

NWU: THE FULL WELCH REPORT MUST BE MADE PUBLIC

posted 22 May 2017, 12:28 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 22 May 2017, 12:51 ]

The following statement, dated 2017/05/22, was issued by the National Workers Union.

The National Workers Union (NWU) condemns the disrespectful and contemptuous way the Ministry of Health has organised its so-called “consultations” on the Welch report which was set up in November 2015 to review the health care system.

The Welch Committee was set up to:

i.To audit the current manner of operation of the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) and its ability to provide quality health care.

ii. To rationalise the system(s) and framework governing doctors who pursue private practice while employed in a public institution.

The report dealing with the RHAs was submitted on August 29th 2016. Up to today the full report has not been published. The Ministry of Health’s website has published thirty eight recommendations from the report, but without being aware of the reasoning behind the recommendations, it is exceedingly difficult to pronounce one way or the other on the recommendations, which makes the consultations nothing but a farce.

None of the recommendations deal with the horrendous industrial relations environment that plagues the health sector and which if not resolved will militate against any upgrade in the quality of health care available to the population.

None of the recommendations deal with the ridiculous dual system of job appointments (Board-approved and cabinet-approved) which is the doorway to nepotism in hiring practices at all levels and which inflict political hacks with no expertise in leading management positions. This is the foundation of the short term contract system which sees workers who have been employed for fifteen years still on short term one year and two year contacts. Some workers are on month to month contracts.

As the National Workers Union stated in its memorandum to the Welch committee dated 2016/02/16 (which may be downloaded at the the bottom of this page): “... some categories of permanent staff that are offered promotions are told that they have to resign their positions and go on short term contracts to accept the promotion. This horrendous contract system affects both workers with professional qualifications and those without. Short term contract workers obviously suffer anxiety over their job security, are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing mortgage and other loans and credit facilities.

They cannot properly plan the future of their families or make significant investments and they are not entitled to be members of the Regional Health Authorities’ Pension Plan. Even if they eventually become “permanent” and eligible to join the Pension Plan, the service they had before they became permanent would not be counted as service in the plan.”


There are many other industrial relations infractions which occur and which would not be tolerated in a unionised environment. Some of them include gross manipulation of the shift system to rob workers of their entitlements, the use of performance appraisals as a tool of victimisation, the lack of urgency in filling the thousands of staff shortages. In effect, the relationship between employees and management does not reflect modern industrial relations practice, but instead is reminiscent of the master and servant relationship which is supposed to be extinct, but which survives in many non-unionised workplaces.

The Welch Report (PART1B) dealing with the issue of public sector doctors in private practice is available on the Ministry of Health’s website. The Committee was unable to agree on a unified position. The majority supporting the abolition of private practice for public health care professionals. This position is supported by the National Workers Union.

The National Workers Union urges the Ministry of Health to make the Welch Report (Part 1) available for public scrutiny so that the people who the public health system is designed to serve can make an input into the discussions based on the information gathered and the arguments put forward by the “experts”.

The National Workers Union recognises that the Welch committee is just the latest in a long line of committees that has examined the health care system including the Julien Commission of 1957, the National Advisory Council interim Report of 1978, the Toby Commission Report of 1982, the Gafoor Commission of 2006. We will not be surprised if the recommendations contained in the Welch report go the way of all flesh as has happened with the recommendations of previous reports.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer. Cell: 785-7637)

COMMUNICATING THE TRUTH: CWU SEEKS ANSWERS ON TSTT IMPENDING ACQUISITION OF MASSY COMMUNICATIONS

posted 15 May 2017, 18:25 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 May 2017, 18:45 ]

The Communication Workers’ Union, (CWU), would like to publicly express its grave concern with respect to the recent announcement by the Board of Directors of the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited, TSTT, about their Share Purchase Agreement with Massy Communications Limited, a Subsidiary of the Massy Holdings Ltd. (Massy).

The Union would like to get some clarity about this situation so that the Union and the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago can be more educated and informed on such a critical development in a very key State Entity.

THE BENEFITS OF STATE INTEREST IN THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SECTOR 

TSTT Is a State Owned Entity with 49% Minority Shareholder Cable and Wireless. The Government has 51% Shareholding Interest in TSTT. The Government’s 51% Shareholding is vested in the National Enterprise Limited, (NEL), an Investment Holding Company Set up in 1999. NEL has Shares in the following Companies: NFM; NGC NGL; NGC TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO LNG; TSTT and TRINGEN.

TSTT has a strong loyal customer base, with a network and plant infrastructure that covers almost the entire geographical space of Trinidad and Tobago. 
In addition, TSTT being the only INDIGENOUS player in the Telecommunications Market for over fifty odd years has developed a cadre of competent, well educated, knowledgeable and experienced personnel in the Telecommunications Business. This is a great asset that cannot be matched or duplicated. 
A BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF THE MASSY GROUP AND THEIR INTERESTS 

Massy Communications is a subsidiary of the Massy Holdings Ltd. (Massy). Massy is a publicly listed company, with 7,500 shareholders. 

The owners of the Company include some institutional investors like the NIB, RBC Trust Limited, Republic Bank and the Unit Trust, plus quite a number of individual shareholders inclusive of some Directors of the Company. 

Massy operates in around five different Sectors, Integrated Retail; Automotive and Industrial Equipment; Energy and Industrial Gases; Financial Services and Information Technology and Communications. 

One of Massy’s key business strategies is the pursuit of growth in all Sectors locally, regionally and in the Latin American Territories. 

Massy Communications Limited (Massy Communications) is a Trinidad & Tobago based subsidiary of the Massy Group. Founded in 2006, by the then Neal and Massy ITC Group, Massy Communications has built a next-generation MPLS based network and made significant investments in both submarine and terrestrial fibre optic capacity. 

The vision of the Massy Communications Limited is to be the leader in next generation technology in the telecommunications industry hence its vision statement: “Where Next is Now.” Their philosophy is articulated as: Your Partners, Real People, Sharing your Passion. 

Massy Communications has partners and affiliates operating in over 50 countries of the world, many are some of the world’s finest Tier 1 Telecommunications providers. Massy Communications’ growing fibre optic network enables the Company to provide clients operating in sectors such as Energy, Financial services, International Telecommunications and Government with multiple classes of voice and data services. 

It must be noted that key members of the Massy Holdings Ltd. Board of Directors include Mr. Robert Bermudez, Chairman, who it is alleged has a close relationship with the PNM Government based on the recent UWI, Vice Chancellor fiasco in addition to being a Director of RBC Financial Caribbean Ltd, which is associated to RBC Trust, which is also a leading institutional Shareholder in Massy Holdings Ltd., and Richard Young, Non Executive Director, who is the father of the current Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young. 

In addition, one of the leading institutional investors in Massy is Republic Bank, which ironically is the same Bank that TSTT raised its Credit Facilities through to facilitate its Strategic Plan. Oh, what a Tangled Web they weave when they seek to Deceive!! 

The Telecommunications Sector in Trinidad and Tobago is considered to be the hub around which the advancement of our economy would revolve. 

TSTT is an Essential Service Provider and as such must have an intrinsic link to the National Developmental thrust. TSTT is very critical to our key national developmental objectives such National Security, Economic Diversification, Social Development, Educational Development, Health Care and Cultural consciousness which the CWU believes must be realised through the State involvement in the Telecommunications Sector. 

Historically, the major beneficiaries from the revenues generated from the Telecommunications Sector are the foreign Multi National Corporations such as Cable and Wireless, Columbus Communications and DIGICEL. The Caribbean region generates about US 5 Billion dollars in revenue in the Telecom Sector annually. 

If we would recall, Cable and Wireless acquired Columbus Communications which had John Malone as one of its main shareholders. 

After that acquisition, John Malone ended up as one of the Major Shareholders of Cable and Wireless and subsequently thereafter, his fully owned Liberty Global, acquired Cable and Wireless. Essentially, meaning that Malone who was bought out by Cable and Wireless, ended up as a major shareholder in Cable and Wireless and then eventually bought out Cable and Wireless, a case of “himself to himself”, or as we put it, ‘CORPORATE PROSTITUTION”. 

It is therefore imperative that the Country and the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago should benefit from such indigenous generated revenues, consistent with the provisions of our Constitution and not corporate raiders such as Malone or local tycoons who does not have the national interest at heart.

CONTRADICTIONS IN PUBLIC POSITIONS OF TSTT AND GOVERNMENT 

TSTT does not have an Executive Chairman, but the Chairman of the Board of Directors made the announcement about the Share Purchase Agreement and defended it by stating that it is an operational issue and as such, there was no requirement to disclose it to the Cabinet or to the Public Accounts Enterprise Committee of Parliament. If it is an operational issue, then the Chairman was quite out of place to be speaking to operational issues.

TSTT announced that the Price for the Share Purchase Agreement was $TT 255 M Dollars, while unconfirmed information now surfacing suggests that Board approval was given for $TT 225 M Dollars. In addition, it is alleged that some Board Members were not aware of the additional $TT 30M Dollars which was announced by the Chairman.

Three (3) Cabinet Ministers publicly stated that neither they nor the Cabinet had any knowledge of this Acquisition but the Prime Minister subsequently stated that the Cabinet was aware of it since it was covered in the Strategic Plan which the Cabinet approved. As the Recognised Majority Union, we were privy to a presentation of the Company’s Strategic Plan and nowhere in that Plan was there any mention of any acquisition of Massy by the Company. So we are left to ask why was there such a haste to enter into this Share Purchase Agreement when the Company recently indicated that there was a Facilities Sharing arrangement which would have allowed TSTT to access the same Fibre Facilities and Plant that they have now paid Millions of dollars for.

The Prime Minister stated that there is no Micro Managing at TSTT, but a NON Executive Chairman says that he is speaking on Operational issues. This is contrary to the Board’s mandate which is to deal with Governance, Policy and Strategic initiatives. So who is really “Communicating the Truth”?

MASSY HOLDINGS BIGGER INTERESTS 

We verily believe that there is a bigger picture and there is an “End Game” for somebody in this transaction because it is our very knowledgeable understanding that Massy Holdings has expressed an interest in acquiring the majority Shareholding at TSTT. It is also public knowledge that Cable and Wireless must sell their 49% Shareholding in TSTT because of their acquisition of Columbus Communications. 
QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED 

Ø Is this a similar corporate acquisition like that of Cable and Wireless and Columbus Communications, where the vendor (John Malone) ended up as the Majority Shareholder of the Purchaser, (Cable & Wireless), as stated earlier? 

Ø Was the Massy Holdings Group or any of their key operatives major Financiers of the PNM in the last National General Election? 

Ø Was the appointment of the new TSTT Chairman the facilitative process for this strange relationship between TSTT and Massy? 

Ø Is this a holding strategy to accomplish one of Massy’s key business strategies which is the pursuit of growth in all Sectors locally, regionally and in the Latin American Territories? 

Ø Is it that Massy Holdings is now positioning itself to leverage on its regional presence to make a Play for a Telecommunications presence in the Caribbean Region, which would certainly lead to growth in all sectors regionally? 

Ø Is this acquisition the precursor to the realisation of Massy Communications stated vision of being leader in next generation technology in the telecommunications industry? Remember that their vision statement is: “Where Next is Now.” 

So is the next move the purchase of the 49% Cable & Wireless Shareholding since they have now initiated this deal? 

Ø Why did the Prime Minister publicly support his alleged personal friend, Mr. Elias and publicly belittle and embarrass his Cabinet Ministers? 

Ø Is it that these Cabinet Ministers do not understand what they are approving at Cabinet meetings, since the PM stated that the Cabinet gave approval to TSTT’s Strategic Plan, but others say they did not know anything about any acquisition? 

Ø What exactly would TSTT acquire from Massy Communications in this strange Share Purchase Agreement since they already have a Facilities Sharing arrangement to have access to Massy Fibre Facilities? 

Ø What will become of the Human Resources at Massy Communications? 

Ø What will be the status of those duplicated Jobs in TSTT and Massy Communications and by extension, what will become of the workers who occupies those Jobs? 
It is also public knowledge that this sale has been postponed on some four (4) occasions by the Telecommunications Authority, TATT, and the National Enterprise Limited, NEL, the latest deadline date for this sale to be concluded being June 30, 2017. 

So in the face of this new deadline, all of a sudden and out of the blues, TSTT has announced this Share Purchase Agreement with Massy Communications. 

We find it very curious that this Transaction was hustled through just before the deadline date for the sale of the 49% Shareholding in TSTT, which Massy Holdings Ltd., the parent Company of Massy Communications, has expressed an interest in purchasing.

CONCLUSION 

There are a lot of unanswered questions relative to this development, but the CWU, consistent with its stated mandate to “Communicate the Truth’, is seeking answers to these questions. This is only the first in a series of publications that we believe are absolutely essential as we Dare to Struggle and Communicate the Truth.

We call on the Chairman of TSTT, the CEO of TSTT and the Prime Minister to “Speak Truth to Power”, “Communicate the Truth” and enlighten the public about this situation since they seem to be the only ones who have intricate details about this troubling Share Purchase Agreement.

We await some Public Answers. For this we “Dare to Struggle”. A word to the Wise is sufficient.

Joseph Remy
Secretary General

GUAVE ROAD FARMERS WANT GOVERNMENT TO OBEY THE LAW

posted 15 May 2017, 06:23 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 May 2017, 06:28 ]

The following statement was issued by Haig Community United on 2017/05/13. It was signed by Eugene A. Reynald, Secretary/Director, Haig Community United

Image result for TRINIDAD GUAVE ROAD FARMERS1. This Press release is issued by Haig Community United (HCU) and relates to its High Court Action seeking justice in its claims to lands at Guave Road in Chaguaramas and compensation resulting from acts of genocide committed against its members by the CDA (Chaguaramas Development Authority).

2. At the invitation of the State, on the 10th May 2017 three representatives of HCU went to the offices of the CDA to discuss a settlement agreement relative to the High Court action HCU brought against the CDA. HCU is on record in the Court as representing the farmers in the HCA.

3. We listened for a while and then had to intervene in order to understand the direction in which the meeting was being taken. When it became clear that the organisers had an agenda that was completely different to the one they communicated to us, we took our leave…but not before explaining in some detail why we were doing so.

4. We went to the meeting in good faith – despite the fact that it was called in defiance of a process of Arbitration advised on by Justice Seepersad at the last Court Hearing of the 7th March 2017 and supported by both the CDA and HCU.

5. We at HCU recommended Arbitration more than one year ago and made arrangements for having a retired Judge (one of repute and agreed to by Justice Seepersad and representatives of the State and CDA) to be the Arbitrator. We at HCU also went to the extent of drafting an Arbitration Agreement to initiate the process but persons at the highest levels of Government who we know, chose - even then, to defy our efforts to initiate the Court recommended Arbitration process.

6. On the day after the aborted meeting we submitted a six page letter to all the parties involved. Among the recipients were Stuart Young, Faris Al Rawi and Dr. Keith Rowley. The letter recorded what took place - particularly the fact it was all set up and proceeded with in defiance of what the State, HCU and Justice Seepersad agreed to.

7. We further advise as follows:

a. The Guave Road farmers (GRF) are the only occupants on lands at Chaguaramas who have a legal claim to ownership of lands in the Peninsular. All other occupants are lessees of the CDA and most of these got their leases by way of nepotism/cronyism or some preferential arrangement.

b. Despite these rights the GRF have been subjected to genocidal assaults by Tewarie and Danny Solomon during the UNC Regime and are now getting similar treatment with clear signs that this could quite easily escalate to genocidal ones.

c. The Government is refusing to compensate the farmers for the loss and expense they suffered - and are still suffering - as a result of such acts of genocide. In a naked attempt at coercion and blackmail the Government is also making vague promises of land to the farmers but only if the farmers give up their legal rights regarding compensation.

The Government unashamedly hold to these positions despite the fact that they know the genocidal acts of the State were illegal and that the farmers currently have employees of CDA in Court on criminal charges related to these illegal acts of genocide.
Image result for TRINIDAD GUAVE ROAD FARMERSIn effect the Government is being oppressive, cruel and knowingly wasteful of public funds in pursuing an illegal course of action against farmers from whom they have taken everything (four have died since this started) leaving them with little option but to fight.

d. To summarise: our claims for compensation are based on facts which were not denied by the UNC (United National Congress) nor are they today denied by the CDA – neither in Court or elsewhere.

The refusal to pay our claims for compensation is “argued for” on the basis of bullying, coercion and tyranny only by those in Cabinet. It is not supported by a single affidavit or reasoned argument put forward by Cabinet or its Attorneys Michael Quamina and Douglas Mendes. And you can bet your life that the real villains in all of this will not come forward…but will continue to hide behind hit men who posture as Attorneys.

e. This recent experience and on-going tyranny by the State has told us that we at HCU will not get fair and just treatment from the majority of those eight or so Ministers – including Rowley and Young, who in May 2015 marched with us from West Mall to Chaguaramas in support of our claims.

f. Our Members have mandated us to continue insisting that Cabinet follows the Law, the recommendations of Justice Seepersad and what the CDA and the State agreed to in Court before Justice Seepersad. With the exercise of a little integrity and intelligence, this process can deliver on Justice within one month and save the public considerable legal and other costs.

g. There is benefit and Justice to all citizens – and not just a few, if the aforementioned is agreed to. We therefore seek the support of all fair minded, patriotic and intelligent citizens in our struggle to have Cabinet observe the Law by firstly correcting their past breaches of it and thereafter ensuring they observe it in going forward.

CWU: PM PLAYING SMART WITH FOOLISHNESS

posted 22 Mar 2017, 05:28 by Gerry Kangalee

The following statement was issued by the Secretary General of the Communication Workers' Union, Comrade Joseph Remy on March 17th 2017

The Communication Workers' Union has carefully noted the statements of the Honourable Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley relative to the Government’s decision to dissolve the Tourism Development Company, TDC, which decision has now placed the jobs of some one hundred and fifteen (115) committed professional workers in jeopardy and has brought about the consequential social and economic challenges for their families.

The Prime Minister has stated that he leads the Cabinet which took the decision to close the TDC and to call on him to fire the Minister because the Minister did it is not to understand what is happening. The Prime Minister also stated that the decision to close the company was not made ’out—of-the-blue". Therefore, the Prime Minister as the head of the Cabinet must take full responsibility for any decision that his Government makes.

The Prime Minister made these statements in response to the Union's call for the removal of the Minister of Tourism for her disrespect to the TDC workers, the CWU and the Trade Union Movement after she made a phone call to the head of the Union almost at the same time that she was preparing to make the public announcement, at the weekly Post- Cabinet Media briefing, that the Government's decided to dissolve the TDC.

The Union would continue to state the irrefutable fact that the Minister NEVER CONSULTED with the CWU as the legitimate RMU for those TDC workers before she proceeded to make a public statement misleading the nation by saying that she held discussions with the President of the Union before the announcement was made, giving the impression that there was prior consultation before the decision was made.

We wish to posit that the Prime Minister, as the head of the Cabinet, must accept full responsibility for this faux-pas and act of disrespect. As such, the CWU is now holding the Prime Minister fully responsible for the mayhem that the Government has created for these workers, who are loyal, dedicated and patriotic citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

We are holding the Prime Minister responsible for one of the most blatant breaches of the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act, Section 40, which mandates that the employer is duty bound to meet and treat in good faith with any Union which has Recognized Majority Union Status in an Organization/Enterprise; we are holding the Prime Minister responsible for knowing all along, since June 2016, as he stated, that there was a report which recommended that the TDC be dissolved but this information was not communicated to the CWU as the Recognized Majority

Union at the TDC neither were they invited to meet and treat in good faith.

We would like to ask whether the Prime Minister consulted with two (2) former Trade Union Leaders who now sit in his Cabinet and who would be engrossed with the knowledge that Section 40 of the IRA mandates a particular approach to deal with situations like this. In addition, the Prime Minister could have called on his Minister in his Office who has a wealth of knowledge in such matters in his former incarnation practising before the Industrial Court. We are convinced that the Cabinet had the requisite resources available to advise and guide them through this process.

We are really left to wonder, who provided leadership to the neophyte Minister of Tourism to advise and/or instruct her to commit such a fundamental breach of the IRA and of good and proper Industrial Relations Practices.

Every time one of the Cabinet Ministers speak on this issue, the more we are left to believe that this was a deliberate act of disrespect for the Trade Union Movement, and as such, the entire Movement was well within its right to suspend its participation in the National Tripartite Advisory Council until this misdemeanour and fundamental breach are addressed. Contrary to the Prime Minister’s recent statement, we wish to remind him that with much pomp and fanfare, the NTAC was launched by him and there was an expressed mandate for the NTAC to be proactive and deal with critical issues that would have brought stability to the Industrial Relations Environment in the country.

The decision to dissolve the TDC is one such issue. It is curious that the Prime Minister made reference to some report in the Chamber of Commerce newsletter, the "Contact”, about $200M wastage at the TDC, as the Chamber is only one partner in the Tripartite process. This sounds like a case of  “who pays the piper calls the tune".

Finally, we wish to correct the Prime Minister and advise him that this is not the first instance of a problem relative to Non-Consultation with the Labour Representatives on the NTAC before a critical decision was announced publicly. We would never forget the Minister of Finance's public utterances at an IMF function where he made the snide and discourteous public announcement about the famous 0% x 0% x 0% Wage offer to Public Sector workers.

As such, we are convinced more than ever that these statements were clearly articulated by the Prime Minister to “Play Smart with foolishness”. The CWU made a public commitment to "Communicate the Truth" and that we vow to continue to do.

CWU EXPOSES MINISTER OF TOURISM

posted 13 Mar 2017, 06:31 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 13 Mar 2017, 07:04 ]

The Communication Workers’ Union, (CWU), would like to publicly express its grave

Image result for shamfa cudjoe
Minister of Tourism, Shamfa Cudjoe
concern with respect to the recent announcement by the Minister of Tourism, Ms. Shamfa Cudjoe that the Cabinet of the Peoples National Movement Government has taken the decision to dissolve the Tourism Development Company, TDC. This decision was announced by the Minister at a Post Cabinet Weekly Media briefing at the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort on Thursday 9th March, 2017. 

The Union would like to bring some clarity to this situation so that the citizens can be more educated and informed. 


THE MANDATE OF THE TDC


TDC Is a special purpose State Enterprise established in 2005 with the expressed mandate to develop and enhance all aspects of the tourism sector in Trinidad and Tobago.  With that mandate was the clear delineation between Trinidad and Tobago, with the TDC having the responsibility for the development of the Tourism product while the Tobago House of Assembly had specific oversight for Tourism development in Tobago. 


BACKGROUND


When the PNM came into Government office in 2015, they appointed Ms. Denise Demming as the Chairman of the Board of Directors and the then CEO Mr. Chin was removed from Office. Mr. Warren Solomon was appointed as the Acting CEO. Early in the life of the new Board, confusion started with the Line Minister removing Ms. Demming as the Chairperson and replacing her with Mr. Richard Duncan.

The Union wrote to the CEO on August 23, 2016, seeking to have several outstanding issues impacting on the Employees employment relationship resolved. We thereafter wrote to the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr. Richard Duncan, via letter dated September 21, 2016, alerting him to the obstinacy of his Executive Management and to the Company’s blatant and flagrant violation of the Industrial Relations Act of Trinidad and Tobago. We did remind the Chairman that the TDC, as a State funded Entity, had an obligation to abide with the Laws of the Country.

At a Standing Finance Committee during the debate on the 2017 Budget which was held in the Lower House. The Minister was on record as stating that the Tourism Development Company was now undertaking a comprehensive Structural Review including a Human Resource Review and that she was sure that there were some positions that were not relevant to the operations of the Company. She also stated that there is a problem of duplication of positions at the TDC that will be treated with. All this was said in the face of a significant reduction in Budgetary allocation where staffing was concerned.

TDC workers jobs under threat as government continues assault against working class.
The Union wrote the Minister via letter dated October 24, 2016 seeking her intervention and an urgent meeting based on the challenges we were having with the Chairman of the Board of Directors and in the face of her recent articulation in Parliament. We got no response from the Minister, but sometime in November, the Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development called the Secretary General and seeking to facilitate a meeting between the Union and the Minister. This meeting was held on December 01, 2016.

At that meeting, the Union indicated to the Honourable Minister, that the Job Security of the members of our Bargaining Units was placed under threat as several Contracts were not renewed and there was no indication as the future tenure of the workers. We also reminded the Minister that for years and under successive Governments, the TDC was used as a Political Football with the staff suffering from the negative effects of mis-management, cronyism, nepotism and flagrant political manipulation which were all allowed to fester to the benefit of whichever regime was in power.

We also articulated that the excellent professional, analytical and creative work done by the staff was ignored and sidelined in favour of un-professional and disingenuous strategies and plans which only facilitated the obscene plundering of the state coffers. While all this malfeasance was taking place, the positioning of Tourism as an alternative means of economic development and diversification was derailed and abandoned. 

As such, the CWU which now has Recognized Majority Union status for those de-motivated Bargaining Unit Employees has taken the position that we will not allow this economically challenging period to be used as the excuse to endanger the Job security of those workers who would have shouldered the burden of the responsibility for keeping the TDC afloat while politicians were having a field day. The Minister did indicate that the Ministry was undertaking a Human Resource Audit at the TDC and she would consult and engage the Union on the completion of this Audit on the way forward for the TDC.


THE TRUTH



To our chagrin and in a most disingenuous manner, at 1.14 p.m. on Thursday 9th March, 2017, the Secretary General of the Union, Comrade Joseph Remy, received a call from the Minister. She indicated that she was at a Cabinet Meeting and she was taking the opportunity to inform the Union before the Governments Post cabinet Meeting that the Cabinet had taken a decision to dissolve the TDC. The Minister also stated that there would be a new regulatory body and in response to a query about the status of workers of the Bargaining Unit, she stated that she would have to engage the Union in subsequent discussions; the conversation with the Secretary General lasted a whopping one minute and forty eight seconds (1min 48 sec).

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, outdoor and nature
CWU investigating Maracas Bay contract to Beckles Environmental Services.
The Union would like to make it pelluicidly clear that we were never consulted prior to this decision being taken. We wish to state that in January 2017, the TDC commenced an investigation into the award of a Contract to Beckles Environmental Services Limited on July 7, 2016 relative to Drainage and Associated Works along the Maracas Bay Car Park. This Contract was awarded after the names of four (4) Contractors were allegedly submitted by the then Minister of Works. Subsequent to that, the Ag. CEO was sent on vacation Leave in January 2017 and has been on leave since then. Two other employees have also been sent on Vacation Leave and Administrative Leave simultaneously, one of them being a member of one of the CWU Bargaining Units.

A meeting which was supposed to be held on Monday 6th March, 2017 to reveal the findings of the investigations was subsequently postponed. On Wednesday 8th March, 2017, the staff was introduced to a Mr. Cliff Hamilton who was identified as the Interim CEO of the TDC. Curiously on Thursday 8th March, 2017, the Minister hastily announced the Cabinet decision before the findings of the investigation are revealed.


CONCLUSION

The Union questions the timing of this decision, which was done before the investigation into the award of this contract can be revealed. We are left ask what would become of the findings of this investigation. In addition, we believe that this decision reeks of anti-union, anti-worker tendencies. Months after the Union submitted its proposals for a new Collective Agreement for the workers of the TDC, the Government wants to now dissolve the Company and start over with two (2) new entities. In effect, the Government would be denying those workers their right to have Trade Union representation, which they are legitimately entitled to have.

The CWU would like to advise the Government that we would not roll over and allow the workers at TDC to be trampled upon. We are convinced that this decision is wrong, misguided, ill-timed and ill-conceived and were not done on the basis of any cogent analysis on the operations of the TDC and on the benefits that would have been derived if a proper reorganisation and restructuring was done in collaboration with all stakeholders, inclusive of the CWU.

As such, we signal our intention to engage in an intense struggle to protect the jobs of all members of our Bargaining Unit and by extension the livelihood of their families. We want to advise the Government that the previous People’s Partnership Government attacked workers and ordinary citizens of the Country and they paid the ultimate political price. As such, they must immediately annul this decision and engage in meaningful consultation with the CWU on the way forward for the TDC and its employees. Failing which would only result in them suffering the same fate as the Partnership Government.

For this we “Dare to Struggle”.

A word to the Wise is sufficient.

TDC WORKERS JOB SECURITY AT STAKE!

posted 9 Mar 2017, 18:23 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 9 Mar 2017, 18:27 ]

On March 9th, the Communication Workers Union issued the following statement signed by General Secretary, Joseph Remy.

Image result for trinidad communication workers unionThe Communication Workers’ Union condemns in the strongest and most vociferous manner the
Joseph Remy, President, Communication Workers Union
recent cabinet decision announced by the Minister of Tourism, Ms. Shamfa Cudjoe, to dissolve the Tourism Development Company, TDC.

Like a thief in the night, the Minister of Tourism, hiding under the comfort and opulence of the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort, Lowlands Tobago, announced on Thursday 9"" March, 2017, that the Cabinet has taken the decision to dissolve the TDC and replace it with two (2) separate entities, with one focussing on Trinidad and one focussing on Tobago.

In a very disrespectful manner, the Tourism Minister has placed the jobs and the lives of over one hundred and twenty (120) workers in disarray, in addition she has now effectively destabilised over one hundred families. This decision was made without any consultation with the CWU, which is the Recognized Majority Union for two (2) Bargaining Units at the TDC.

Consistent with her statement made in Parliament early on in her term of ofhce, the Tourism Minister has attempted to demonstrate that "they are in charge now" and has disregarded all basic principles of Industrial Relations and good and proper governance and employment practices.

This action comes months after the CWU submitted proposals for a new Collective Agreement for the Bargaining Unit Workers at the TDC while the Government was procrastinating in commencing negotiations for a new Collective Agreement for these workers. We can only deduce from this action that the Government wants to prevent the CWU from making representation for and on behalf of these workers, in essence, this self professed pro-worker PNM Government is engaging in anti- worker, anti-union tactics.

Is it that the CWU is now targeted for not signing the MOU with the PNM prior to the last Election? 

If that is so, then we cry shame on this PNM Government for another attempt at Union Busting!
This action demonstrates in a most brazen manner, the worst form of Governance. Imagine workers having to hear about the dissolution of the Company that they work for, through a press statement and on messages on Social Media. Is it that the CWU is now targeted for not signing the MOU with the PNM prior to the last Election? If that is so, then we cry shame on this PNM Government for another attempt at Union Busting!

We also question the timing of this statement, which we believe is coming on the heels of an investigation that is now being conducted into the award of a Contract by the TDC early on in 2016 during the tenure of the current Government. A lot of questions have been left unanswered about this contract which was awarded to a purported PNM Financier for the clearing and de-silting of Drains along the Maracas Bay Car Park.

Based on information gleaned so far, we have been advised that some startling revelations have been made and as such, there is now this haste to close down the TDC before that information reaches the public domain. We at the CWU has signalled our strong support for Lady Gypsy and her 2017 Calypso and have taken a cue from her and wish to and advise the PNM Government that the CWU would Ring the Bell for Justice, we would Ring the Bell for Job Security for the TDC workers and we would ring the Bell for the right of Trade Union Representation for the workers at the TDC.

The CWU is demanding that the Government lays its hands of the Jobs of those TDC workers, who are not responsible for the poor management and misspending of Funds that the Minister is alluding to. Thereafter, the Minister must immediately engage the Union in discussions about the current status of the Bargaining Unit Workers at the TDC.

We thought that this Government would have learnt a lesson from what happened with the Peoples Partnership Government, so we wish to remind them that the PP Government was warned about adopting anti-worker and anti-union strategies and tactics and was advised that they would pay the ultimate Political Price. It seems that less than two (2) years into their term of office, they feel that they could take people for granted, but by their uncaring actions, they have signalled that they want to suffer the same consequences as the PP Government.

Well the CWU wishes to warn them that we, together with the TDC Workers are prepared to engage in an intense struggle to protect the Jobs of all members of our Bargaining Unit and by extension protect the livelihood of their families. lf they don‘t take heed, then we can assure them that they too would pay the ultimate political price.

For that we dare to struggle.

A word to the wise is sufficient

OWTU MUST PUBLISH PETROTRIN PROPOSALS

posted 15 Feb 2017, 12:29 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Feb 2017, 12:31 ]

On  2017-02-15, the National Workers Union issued the following statement:

The Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) has submitted a proposal for the “restructuring” of Petrotrin to the government and, according to media reports, preliminary discussions with the government have been held on the proposal. The union has agreed to nominate two persons to a seven member committee appointed by the government to review the operations of the state enterprise and recommend mechanisms for restructuring the company. 

Petrotrin does not belong to whichever political party controls the government. It belongs to the people of Trinidad and Tobago and is critical to the short term economic future of the country. Petrotrin is one of the largest employers in the country; is critical to the service sector in the South and is the third largest taxpayer in the country after NGC and BPTT.

It stands to reason, therefore, that the OWTU, which over the years has distinguished itself as an organisation defending the interests of working people, needs to be as transparent as possible concerning its proposals for restructuring. The union has a duty to publish, for all to access, the entire document that was submitted to the government.

The “restructuring” of Petrotrin cannot simply be a matter between the union and the government, but is of great importance to the welfare of the people of T&T. The OWTU proposals and any other proposals for the restructuring should be as widely debated as possible in keeping with the philosophy of mass participation by the people in the politics of the country, outside of election season.

While, the OWTU proposals are not in the public domain, the Union’s President General has been cited in the media as saying that Petrotrin is top heavy and suggests that “the company’s mega structure be broken into different segments to ensure greater efficiency...Trinmar should be operated on its own. The land operations should be separate and the refinery operations separate for all to deliver on their fullest potential,”

It is a bit puzzling that the OWTU which has strongly and rightly condemned the staffing of management positions in state enterprises with party financiers and political hacks should propose a structure where the company is broken into segments to ensure greater efficiency. On the surface, and not having seen the entire document, this proposal seems to be cutting road for PNM ‘gouti to run. It seems to be more jobs for the boys to feed at the trough.

The union leader says that Trinmar should be separate as should land operations and refinery operations. What is meant by separate is not clear. Does it mean that three “separate” companies should be established? How does this ensure efficiency? If, the state enterprise governance model is flawed, as the union has argued for years, how is dividing the company into smaller segments going to address that problem.

It must be borne in mind that Petrotrin is operating in an international industry dominated by the largest, vertically integrated transnational corporations in the world – companies like BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon etc., not to mention the huge state-owned firms like Aramco, Petronas, Petrobras, Statoil etc.

Without having the benefit of accessing the entire OWTU document, it seems that the president general’s utterings suggest a one hundred and eighty degree turn from OWTU’s long-held position as stated in a memorandum submitted to the government of Trinidad and Tobago on the nationalisation of the oil industry in 1982. The document was published in booklet form and was accessible to all those interested. There was no social media in those days.

On page 61 of the booklet, the union states: “
...it is pointless that in a small oil producing and refining country such as ours, to have several separate and distinct companies carrying out their operations.

The National Workers Union (NWU) respects the OWTU’s right to change policy over the years, but the reasons for those changes, as they affect the interests of working people, should be explained. 


The National Workers Union, therefore, urges the OWTU to publish its proposals for the “restructuring” of Petrotrin, so that the information becomes available to the public and the debate about the short term future of the hydrocarbon industry and the economy of T&T can begin. Anything short of the OWTU publicising its proposals may be viewed as birds of a feather scratching each other's back.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer). Cell: 785-7637

CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR MUST ANSWER!

posted 3 Feb 2017, 04:59 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 3 Feb 2017, 05:36 ]

Afra Raymond
David Walker
The following is an open letter dated 31st January 2017 to the Governor of the Central Bank co-authored by Afra Raymond and David Walker. It raises a number of troubling questions about the legal basis for actions being taken under the purported rescue of CLICO/CLF with the use of more than 20 billion dollars of our money.

Whether you agree/disagree with the positions taken by the authors of the letter the point is that you should endorse the call for answers from the Central Bank. The Governor is duty bound to share with the public his legal opinion on what are very troubling matters.

The authors are seeking support from individuals, organisations and collectives for the request that the governor of the Central Bank carry out his role as a “public servant” and disclose the information to which the people have an entitlement. After all, it is our money, isn’t it?

For further information contact d.walker@alcindorwalker.com.


We, the undersigned, have become very concerned about the direction of the “rescue” of CLICO et al after over eight years under the control of the Central Bank and the government.

Our principal concern is at the apparent regulatory forbearance being exhibited by the Central Bank in this matter. Our further concerns relate to the legality of the ongoing control and any untoward consequences arising from that; the inordinate delay in the return of billions of dollars to the taxpayer and the impact that must be having on economic decision making; and finally, the nature of some recent ministerial statements which appear to be at odds with the stated goals of the rescue as articulated in the Central Bank Act.

We respectfully ask for your guidance in addressing these concerns as follows:

Question 1:

The Central Bank has a duty to enforce its fit and proper regulations to ensure the stability of the financial system by disqualifying unfit and improper persons from acting as Directors, Officers, Actuaries and controlling Shareholders in Financial Institutions. Official statements surrounding the events in this large-scale failure of the CL Financial group and four of its Financial Institution subsidiaries – CLICO; British-American Insurance Company; Caribbean Money Market Brokers and Clico Investment Bank present a prima facie case that the then principals in those companies are no longer fit and proper to be Directors, Officers or controlling Shareholders.

The Central Bank issued a Press Release on 7th June 2011 to advise of its lawsuit against Lawrence Duprey, Andre Monteil and others, after certain forensic investigations. That Press Release was explicit in stating the Central Bank's position - “...the subordination of the interests of CLICO, its policyholders and mutual fund unit investors to the private interests of Mr. Duprey and Mr. Monteil and their companies; the lack of proper governance and serial mismanagement; improper dealing with CLICO’s assets and the funds of policyholders and mutual fund unitholders...”

Given that the Central Bank arrived at that position over five years ago, it is entirely unacceptable that no action seems to have been taken to have the responsible parties declared unfit under the fit and proper regulations. Is it the case that such action is still in progress or is it that the clear view as then articulated is no longer the official position? Either way, in the light of previous statements, what is the Central Bank’s current position on the matter?
Dr. Alvin St. Hilaire - Governor of the Central Bank
Question 2:

It is apparent from a reading of the Central Bank Act that the control exercised is not to be open-ended. Indeed Section 44G defines the conditions upon which such control shall be relinquished. That appears to be the only reasonable interpretation of the section which is copied below.

“44G. (1) Where the Bank has under section 44D assumed control of an institution, the Bank shall, subject to subsection (2) remain in control of, and may continue to carry on the business of that institution until such time as the Bank publishes in the Gazette and in such newspapers as it thinks appropriate a notification that it has ceased to be in control of the institution.

44G. (2) The Bank shall relinquish control and shall not continue to carry on the business of an institution where-

(a) the circumstances on the basis of which the Bank assumed control of the institution under Section 44D have ceased to exist;”

Our question is that given the removal of the risk of contagion and the stated solvency of the Statutory Fund, does the Act not now require demand that control be relinquished? Given that the former Governor of the Central Bank and other officers have made statements to the effect that the Statutory Fund is now in surplus and that the company is no longer in deficit is it not now mandatory that the Section 44 control be relinquished?

Question 3:

There are also conditions that must be met before the powers are to be exercised. Here is the extract.

“44D (2) The powers of the Bank under subsection (1) shall not be exercised unless the Bank is also of the opinion that the financial system of Trinidad and Tobago is in danger of disruption, substantial damage, injury or impairment as a result of the circumstances giving rise to the exercise of such powers.”
Image result for clicoOur question is whether the Bank is still of the opinion that the financial system of Trinidad and Tobago is in danger of disruption, substantial damage, injury or impairment as a result of the circumstances giving rise to the exercise of such powers? If not, do the immunities defined in section 44 still apply to the actions of the Bank and its appointees? Can they carry on dealing with the assets and operations of the institution with impunity?
Question 4:

The Central Bank Act suggests that actions undertaken during the rescue are to be guided by the interests of creditors and policyholders. These are the only two groups so mentioned. To quote the Act again “44D (1) (c) have power—

(i) to investigate the affairs of the institution concerned and any of its affiliated institutions and to appoint a person or persons for that purpose;

(ii) to such extent as it thinks fit, to assume control of and carry on the affairs of the institution and, if necessary, to take over the property and undertaking of the institution;

(iii) to take all steps it considers necessary to protect the interests, and to preserve the rights of depositors and creditors of the institution”.

Our question is whether the Central Bank and Minister are free to pursue other goals such as unrelated government objectives as their primary driver(s) in executing the rescue.

Question 5:

Following upon Question 4, was the acquisition of policyholder rights (The Resolution Plan) done under Section 44 powers, and if so how does that action “preserve the rights of depositors and creditors of the institution” as the Act seems to demand?

Question 6:

To whom does the decision as to the relinquishing of control of CLICO fall?

a) Central Bank
b) Minister of Finance
c) Both of the above
d) Some other individual(s) or agency(ies)?

Question 7:

Andre Monteil - fit and proper?
There is a fundamental contradiction between the position implied by official statements that the CL
Lawrence Duprey - fit and proper?
Financial principals are not fit and proper and the requirement that the Central Bank now relinquish control.

The question is therefore what are the proposals being considered to resolve this so that the companies are released from Central Bank control without the former principals regaining any positions as Directors, Officers or controlling Shareholders. It is our respectful view that this is an important aspect on which the public deserves a clear explanation so that we can be reasonably assured that there is no chance of those persons, against whom the Central Bank is litigating, re-entering our country’s financial system in any manner which could again jeopardise our collective security.

We trust that you will address these questions with the seriousness that they deserve and expect that your excellent legal team will provide their usual expert advice. Indeed, we expect that these questions must have been already addressed by you and your team in the course of managing the rescue of CLICO in conformity with the Central Bank Act and other relevant legislation.

David Walker - d.walker@alcindorwalker.com
Afra Raymond - afraraymond.net
Disclosure Today - https://www.disclosure.today/

NATUC: BALGOBIN MUST GO

posted 18 Jan 2017, 18:49 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 18 Jan 2017, 19:00 ]

Michael Annisette, General Secretary of the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) wrote the following undated letter to trade unions.

Following a meeting of the Executive Committee of NATUC on 06/01/2017, we were mandated to write to you with respect to the disturbing report which was brought to our attention by our member union, the SWWTU. The SWWTU has informed the NATUC that allegations of sexual misconduct have been levelled against Mr. Rolph Balgobin, Chairman of Angostura Holdings Limited by a senior female manager.

It has been further revealed, that for over a period of ten years and over a span of several organisations, allegations of sexual harassment has been made against Rolph Balgobin by several women.

We in the NATUC are very concerned with the negative impact of the allegations on the company and the wellbeing of the workers, particularly because the company is one of the few local businesses that operate at a domestic, regional and international level. With the reputation of the company already affected by the newspaper reports that the Company is in breach of the European Union's rules of origin about rum blending integrity, these allegations levelled at the Chairman have the potential to bring the company and the Board into disrepute locally and internationally. Further, we strongly condemn any harassment of employees, sexual or otherwise at any level of the organization.

The NATUC supports the view of the SWWTU that the nature of these allegations is particularly disturbing and the matter should be dealt with swiftly. In so doing, care should be taken to secure and maintain both the public and employees confidence in the Board and the company. Since these allegations speak to personal behavior and unbecoming conduct, we are of the view that it should not be allowed by extension/ association to tarnish the image and brand of the company which is a public listed company that operates in the domestic, regional and international arena. These allegations can detract from the company and have already begun to do so since the position of Chairman is the highest position in the company.

In light of the foregoing, the NATUC supports our affiliated union the SWWTU and is calling for the resignation of Mr. Balgobin, or at the very least, that he demits his position and refrains from attending all meetings of the Board of Angostura until there is an independent and transparent investigation into these allegations. The issue of corporate governance cannot be swept under the table and for the Chairman to continue to perform his duties under these circumstances, would be sending the wrong message and will tarnish the image of the Board and its members.

We are seeking your support in this respect and by asking you to write to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and the Minister of Finance, requesting that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago act to either request the resignation or alternatively revoke the appointment of Mr. Balgobin as Chairman of Angostura Holdings until the matter has been conclusively determined.

The NATUC believes that transparency and accountability go hand in hand and should be of high relevance for any company or organisation. We believe that until these allegations are refuted, it would be principled on the part of Mr. Balgobin to vacate the position of Chairman.

We look forward to your staunch support and solidarity. We take this opportunity to also invite you to support our online petition at:

https://www.change.org/p/angostura-chairman-must-resign-after-sexual-harassment-allegations-872d3c94-22f5-42c8-a44e-aadbce57813a

FITUN: GOVERNMENT IMPOSING WAGE FREEZE

posted 5 Jan 2017, 12:30 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 5 Jan 2017, 12:32 ]


Joseph Remy - President of FITUN
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non-Governmental Organizations, FITUN, would like to publicly express its solidarity with the OWTU in its current struggle with PETROTRIN and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago relative to its outstanding wage negotiations for the periods 2011-2014 and 2014 to 2017.

In the face of public concern about the impending Strike Notice as pronounced by the Union, the Federation would like to condemn the mis-information and inconsistent statements emanating from the Government about PETROTRlN’S obscene offer to the Union. In one breath we heard from the new Government’s mouthpiece, Minister, Stuart Young that there was no directive given to the PETROTRIN Management to make an offer of "0% x 0% x 0%" for the both periods.

While we also heard from the Finance Minister that no State Body, in particular, a fully owned State Entity, has any authority to make any offer on wage Negotiations without the expressed directions of the inter Ministerial Negotiating Committee.

If we are to believe Minister Young, then it is obvious that the PETROTRIN Board breached their authority by making on offer without being authorized, but on the other hand,if we are to take Minister lmbert’s statement in context, then it can be deduced that the PETROTRIN Board acted consistent with the clear public mandate given by the Finance Minister when he stated that the Government’s offer to Trade Unions would be 0% x 0% x 0%.

It is either the Board acted with the mandate of the Finance Minister or if not; then they acted without authority and as such, they breached their authority and in those circumstances, the necessary action ought to be taken against the Board.

We can only deduce that in the midst of all these confusing statements from the Government and the stated and un-challenged statement from the Union about the wage offer by the PETROTRIN Management, the Union is now facing an imminent WAGE FREEZE. As such, any progressive Trade Union would take the necessary and legitimate action to protect the interest of its members and all other workers in the Country since a WAGE FREEZE would have very debilitating consequences to all workers of the country.

It is clear to FITUN that what is playing off in the PETROTRIN case is an attempt to institute a Government Wage Policy on the Trade Union Movement, and, they believe that if they can be successful against the most powerful Trade Union in the Country, then all other Unions would have to fall in line. We wish to remind the public that another FITUN member the CWU was also faced with a 0% x 0% x 0% wage offer for their 2014 - 2016 Wage Negotiations.

In the face of all these circumstances, FITUN would like to express its solidarity with our member Union, the OWTU in this current scenario. We demand that the Government immediately engage in the necessary discussions with the Union and the respective Federations with the clear mandate of bringing this imbroglio to on end; an imbroglio that they have created by their mis-management of the situation.

FITUN stands ready to work with parties to have this situation resolved, but we would not deviate from our support for the Union's call for the removal of the obscene WAGE FREEZE offer from the Negotiating Table. We believe that once this offer is removed and the process of Free and Fair Collective Bargaining is allowed to be pursued consistent with the principles of good industrial Relations Practices, we would save the country from the inconvenience of Strike Action.

The Government must not be allowed to mask its WAGE FREEZE Policy in the face of the Economic Challenges that the Working Class had absolutely no responsibility for. In addition, we at FITUN are strong in support for the Labour Movements Economic Alternative Plan, which strongly advocated the position of Wage Led Growth to stimulate economic activity which could take our Country out of this economic Mess that was created by previous Governments.

We therefore await the Government’s next move which we hope would be announced today, failing which we can only lay the blame at their feet for any inconvenience that the Public would face from any Strike Action that may result.

A word to the wise is sufficient. 

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