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Media Releases

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

CWU: WHY WE BLANKED KAMLA!

posted 24 Jan 2015, 10:10 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 24 Jan 2015, 10:15 ]

Joseph Remy, Secretary General of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) issued the following statement on January 23rd.

The Communication Workers’ Union would like to place on public record, its position relative to its non-participation in the Public Relations Meeting called by the Prime Minister with so called "Labour Stakeholders" on Thursday 22"° January, 2015.

We wish to state that we decided to reject this discourteous invitation because it was over seven (7) letters too late and some four (4) years after repeated efforts by this Union failed to get the ear of the Prime Minister.

For the records, the CWU would like to chronicle its attempts to get an audience with the Prime Minister: —

• In December 2010 the Union wrote to the Prime Minister calling for a meeting after the Government summarily removed the CWU nominee from the Board of TSTT; at that time the Oil Price was around US $90.07 per Barrel.

• In January 2012, the Union wrote to the Prime Minister about the Union’s concerns about the Shareholders Relationship at TSTT relative to the Cable and Wireless arrangement; at that time the Oil Price at that time was US $106.89.

• In February 2012, the Union wrote to the Prime Minister again raising concerns about the Shareholders Relationship at TSTT and calling on the Government to outline its policy position relative to the future role for TSTT in the economic and social development of the Country; at that time the Oil Price was US $112.70.

• In March 2012, the Union wrote to the Prime Minister outlining several issues that were of concern to the workers at TSTT relative to (i) the Financial Status of TSTT, (ii) the Status of TSTT as a State Entity and (iii) the TSTT Group Health Plan and its impact on Retirees; at that time the Oil Price was US $108.06

• In September 2013, the Union wrote to the Prime Minister on the following concerns at TSTT, (i) the Financial Status of TSTT, (ii) The Industrial Relations Climate at TSTT, (iii) The TSTT Group Health Plan and its impact on hundreds of Retirees and (iv) The status of the TSTT and TELCO Pension Plans and their impact on thousands of Pensioners; at that time the Oil Price was US $108.78.

• In November 2013, the Union wrote to the Prime Minister raising concerns about the manner with which the Union’s several requests for meetings were being treated. We went on in that letter to once again raise concerns about the future role of TSTT in the economic and social development of Trinidad and Tobago; at that time the Oil Price was US $102.58.

On all those occasions quoted above, the price of Oil was above the Budgeted figure and the Government was wallowing in surpluses. This was evident by the wanton squander mania that was taking place inclusive of naked and obscene nepotism, cronyism and alleged corrupt practices.

At that time, the Government was busy ensuring that their supporters and party hacks were well fed from the State Troughs and "EAT AH FOOD,” was the order of the day; so therefore, the genuine and nationalistic pleas of the CWU were ignored by the Prime Minister. What was most distasteful was the Prime Minister’s promise to meet with the CWU in 2013. Such a meeting never materialized even up to this day.

In those circumstances, the CWU as an Independent and Progressive Working Class Institution, felt belittled and disrespected when we received a letter signed by the Minister of Labour, Small and Micro Enterprise Development addressed to”Labour Stakeholder" indicating that the Prime Minister will meet with stakeholders and representatives of the Trade Union Movement, Workers Organisations and Associations on Thursday 22"" January, 2015. This, coupled with the disrespect shown by the Prime Minister’s continued refusal to meet with the Union, emboldened our position that we would not be attending this Charade.

The Union wants to know why the Prime Minister did not meet with us when there was no turbulence in the energy sector and therefore there was no impact of lower oil prices on economies such as ours. Why all of a sudden, when there is a scenario of falling oil prices, (the Oil Price is now hovering around US $47.00 a Barrel), and the attendant economic fallout for Government revenues, there is now an urgent need to meet with the Trade Unions.

Once again, consistent with the failed economic practices of successive Governments and the neo liberal agenda, when there is Profit they CAPITALIZE them and distribute them among the few friends and financiers, but when there are losses they want to SOCIALIZE them and have the unsuspecting citizens bear the burden of adjustment. The CWU would not and would never condone such abuse and exploitation of the masses.

As such, we wish to reaffirm our commitment to the defence and advancement of the cause of workers and the less possessed in our society. We will not subject ourselves to the status of "hewers of wood and drawers of water" as was displayed by those other persons posing in leadership position of the Trade Union Movement 

CWU SCOLDS JAMAICA ON C&W TAKEOVER

posted 20 Jan 2015, 09:34 by Gerry Kangalee

Joseph Remy, Secretary General of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) issued the following media statement on January 19th 2015.

The Communication Workers' Union would like to express its deep regret and concern over the recent announcement by the Jamaican Government of their approval for the "transfer of control of Flow and Columbus Networks to Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC)".

What was even more disconcerting was the assertion by the Minister that "there was little the Jamaican Government could do to block the multi-billion merger." This latest development smacks in the face of the sovereignty of Caribbean Countries and speaks of our propensity to succumb to foreign Multi-Nationals who wave their purses at individual regional leaders time and time again, thereby destroying what little remains of Regional Integration.

When would we learn that a united Caribbean Region can wield substantial economical and political power once there is genuine unity? Additionally, this approval was also given despite the position adopted by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union to seek a regional response to this impending acquisition.

This impending acquisition was the subject of a hastily scheduled meeting among Regional Regulators and some stakeholders in the Telecommunication Sector in the region In December 2014 in Trinidad and Tobago. Coming out of that meeting, there was some understanding that the Regional Regulators and major stakeholders would seek to develop a common unified position with respect to the acquisition and lay the foundation for a regional policy position going forward with respect to the Telecommunication Sector in the region. All this was supposed to be done to ensure that the Telecommunication Sector in the region works for and in the best interest of citizens of the region.

The Communication Workers' Union renews its call to the Trinidad and Tobago Government and the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago to take the lead in this situation and reject any approval for the transfer of control of Flow to Cable and Wireless Communications. We have recently submitted our concerns to the TATT and we demand that they acknowledge our written submissions and seriously engage the CWU as one of the key stakeholders in the Telecommunications Sector in meaningful discussions on the implications of this impending acquisition before any decision is taken.

We are also calling on the Government to stay their hands on any decision on this matter and strongly advise that they do not follow the ill conceived and unfortunate position adopted by the Jamaican Government. We demand that the Trinidad and Tobago situation be looked at differently and that in this time of economic depression, we do not sell out our patrimony for 30 pieces of silver as it seems has happened in the Jamaican situation.

HEALTH WORKERS ON THE MOVE

posted 14 Jan 2015, 18:39 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 14 Jan 2015, 18:51 ]

On January 14th 2015 the National Health Workers Union (NHWU) issued the following statement to its members at the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA):

UNION MEETS WITH CEO


The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) met for nearly two hours on Thursday 8th January at Level 8 of the San Fernando Teaching Hospital with the Chief Executive Officer of the South West Regional Authority (SWRHA) Anil Gosine and members of the human resource and industrial relations department. The NHWU is affiliated to the National Workers Union (NWU). The National Workers Union provides human and material resources, technical expertise in terms of organising, industrial relations, training, education, research and publications to its affiliates, including the NHWU.

The union team was led by NWU President Frank Sears, and NWU executive members Sylvan Wilson and Gerry Kangalee, registered nurse Carlanne St. John and medical orderlies, Andy Acosta and Marlon Clement. The latter three are employees of SWRHA based at the San Fernando General Hospital and activists of the NHWU deeply involved in building the union. ENA Arlene Maillard was absent from the meeting because of illness.

It should be noted that to build a union from scratch is a humongous task, but the experiences health workers have gone through make it absolutely necessary to build a health workers union for the thousands of workers, both at the RHAs and in the private medical industry. As workers keep streaming into the NHWU, departmental shop steward elections will be held. The shop stewards elected will undergo training and will be responsible fordealing with workers grievances throughout the stages of the procedure. The medical orderlies will soon elect their shop steward.


Gosine headed a SWRHA team that included Debra Singh Khan who heads the human resource department, Dan Mahabirsingh and Rawl George from the industrial relations department.

The meeting was an introductory meeting to inform the CEO and the Human Resources/ Industrial Relations Department of the concerns the NHWU will be pursuing in advancing the interests of its members and to work out the ground rules for the interaction of the union with management.

The union team raised the issues of the need for clear lines of communication between both parties, particularly as it took four written requests from the union before Gosine agreed to meet with the union. It was accepted by Gosine’s team that their Human Resources Department would be responsible for ensuring that communication channels with the union would be clear.


Marlon Clement was part of the NHWU team

The need for a proper structuring of dispute procedures and protocols for handling workers grievances on the basis of an agreed-on grievance procedure was placed on the agenda by the union and suggested that it be based on the procedure contained in the collective agreement negotiated for the daily paid by NUGFW. The union has undertaken to submit a draft specimen so that this most important matter may be expedited.

The union requested co-operation from management in terms of facilitating training for union representatives and clearance for non-SWRHA-based union officers to visit the various compounds on official business. Management agreed that such normal courtesies would be extended to the union

The issue of security and safety was discussed at length. The union pointed out the need for a thorough security review at SWRHA, especially in the light of incidents where workers ended up in harm’s way through threats, abductions etc., also the question of car-park security, inadequate lighting and placement of security cameras. The union suggested that a security task force be set up including the two security companies, SWRHA’s in -house security and union representatives to carry out that task.


Anil Gosine SWRHA CEO

Other issues discussed were clarification of the process used by SWRHA in making salary adjustments. The union expressed its great disapproval of management’s poor industrial relations practice of unilaterally varying workers’ entitlements e.g. reducing vacation leave by the number of casual days workers take and discriminatory practices as they apply to workers who have been hospitalised beyond their 14 day sick leave entitlement.

The union team had to bouff management for refusing to comply with the request of a member of the RHA Pension Plan for documents relating to the plan (trust deed and rules, financial statements, actuarial reports). The law as contained in the Insurance Act (1980) clearly spells out that all workers are entitled to these documents upon request. Management seemed unaware of the provisions of the law.

The union team put management on notice that it viewed the issue of contract labour (particularly short term contract labour) as the most burning issue affecting a large group of SWRHA’s employees. It was pointed out that hundreds of workers are at a severe disadvantage when it came to planning their progression in life without job security as these workers found it impossible to negotiate loans for housing, for ensuring their children’s education and for acquiring household necessities among other needs.  So-called contract workers were also excluded from the Pension Plan and 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. It must be noted that the formula for calculating workers’ pension is based on a worker’s final salary and on his years of service.

The meeting concluded on the note that the union would submit its position on the grievance procedure and other matters raised, so that discussion with Human Resources could begin and mechanisms for resolving issues could be hammered out and actions on the matters discussed could be expedited.

REMEMBER! FOR THE NHWU TO HANDLE YOUR ISSUES AND GRIEVANCES, YOU MUST BE A MEMBER OF THE UNION!

For further information on joining the union call Arlene Maillard 725 8950; Carlanne St. John 308 0938; Marlon Clement 398 8050; Andy Acosta 335 4435.

SWRHA NURSES REFUTE UNWARRANTED ATTACKS

posted 31 Dec 2014, 17:21 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 31 Dec 2014, 17:40 ]

2014-12-31

 SWRHA NURSES REFUTE UNWARRANTED ATTACKS

The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) was registered as a trade union on 25th June 2014 and is actively recruiting members in ALL Regional Health Authorities. The NHWU is seeking to provide representation to all monthly rated health workers except doctors at South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA).

The union is horrified by the unwarranted attack by the Medical Director of SWRHA (who was recently acting CEO) particularly against Registered Nurses (RNs) and other categories of staff at the RHA. The NHWU urges citizens to pay particular attention to the issues affecting health workers as they are the exact same problems affecting quality health care delivery to you.

Mr. Anand Chattergoon’s tirade focused on allegations of high absenteeism of RN’s over the Christmas period. His comments and those of the Minister of Health, as reported by the media, give the false impression that more than fifty per cent of the RN’s who were rostered to work at the San Fernando General Hospital failed to show up. This is contrary to the information received by the union.

Moreover Mr. Chattergoon’s comments do not take into account statements made by his boss Mr. Anil Gosine at the SWRHA Public Board meeting at the San Fernando City Hall auditorium on November 6th 2014 that there are THREE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN (3413) vacancies and specifically NINE HUNDRED and Ninety-Two (992) nursing vacancies at SWRHA.

This situation alone speaks volumes. This MUST result in long hours, excessive overtime, tired workers, denial of legitimate leave etc. and this must negatively impact the quality of health care to the population.

NHWU reproduces a statement in full by nurses employed at SWRHA.

“Instead of accepting management’s responsibility for the chaos nurses are being accused of having poor work ethics, of not caring for the patients or our colleagues and of fraudulently producing sick leave certificates and staying away from duty. We have maintained our professionalism during these unwarranted attacks but we have decided that it is time for us to speak out and let the nation know what is going on since Mr. Chattergoon is deliberately withholding pertinent information.

Mr Chattergoon has claimed that the nurses agreed to open the San Fernando Teaching Hospital but we are now complaining of being short staffed. However, we were never consulted about opening the hospital, neither were we consulted about relocating the wards and separating each ward into two, while using the same staff.

Anyone who understands the structure of the SWRHA and by extension the Ministry of Health would know that nurses are not consulted on any decision, even those that directly affect us. Any conversation about this took place between different arms of management and NOT with nurses and other rank and file employees of the RHA.

To compound this, rather than deal with the many issues plaguing the health care system, Mr. Fuad Khan is threatening to bring more foreign nurses into our system to replace local nurses. The attitudes of these two gentlemen serve to give the general public the impression that we, despite being consulted about issues concerning us, being handsomely remunerated for our efforts, and exposed to excellent working conditions in a well managed system, choose to be delinquent.

Prior to the Teaching Hospital being opened nurses were already severely short staffed. The influx of Cuban nurses has done little to alleviate the problem for two main reasons: apart from the obvious one of the language barrier; some of these nurses have not received registration numbers from the nursing council of Trinidad and Tobago.

 Our nurses cannot go to any other country and practice without numbers since it is illegal for any nurse in any country to practice without a number. Having no registration number relegates you to the status of student. This means that local nurses, although already understaffed, are forced to monitor and overseer the work being done by these Cuban nurses, even going so far as having to countersign every procedure they document, therefore adding to our workload.

According to the World Health Organisation, the nurse to patient ratio is one nurse to six patients. This is the recommended ratio to ensure quality care is given. At San Fernando General Hospital the nurse to patient ratio is most times closer to one nurse for twenty two patients. This is unsafe and puts both the nurse and the patients under her care at risk.

The Paediatric and Medical wards that have been moved over to the Teaching Hospital have all been separated in two. This means where there may have been one ward with twenty nurses you now have two wards with ten. When you factor in the different shifts and people’s days off, it is easy to see why we are short. When you have seven or eight nurses on a daylight shift and two stay home it is not difficult to run the wards and patients may not even be aware of the shortage. However when you now have three nurses on a daylight shift and the same two nurses stay home the result is that one nurse cannot function alone on a ward.

The layout of the Paediatric wards means that on any given shift there should be six nurses on duty in order to properly monitor patients. That has never happened since the wards were opened because there just isn’t sufficient staff which means one nurse is responsible for manning two, sometimes three suites, (there are four patients to a suite) even when there are critically ill patients requiring one on one nursing.

Overwork, frustration and a total lack of respect by those in authority for our efforts coupled with a lack of appreciation for all of us who work overtime and extra duty for minimal compensation in order to keep the hospital running is what we tolerate every day. No mention has been made of those of us who supplement the pool system; even though the pool system is the reason the Teaching Hospital has not come to a screeching halt.

Notwithstanding the effort made by nursing personnel to go the extra mile SWRHA still refuses to pay traditional overtime rates for the extra hours.

Anyone who knows anything about management understands that the greatest motivator is not money. Rather, the greatest motivator is acknowledgement of a job well done and appreciation when employees go above and beyond the call of duty. It would therefore do these goodly gentlemen well to stop pointing fingers and laying unfair blame at the feet of the hardworking nurses and accept responsibility for the problems plaguing the health care system due to gross mismanagement by the powers that be.”

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Gerry Kangalee, Education and Research Officer National Workers Union 785 7637

PETROTRIN PROPOSES WAGE FREEZE!

posted 25 Nov 2014, 07:40 by Gerry Kangalee

The following undated statement was published by the Trinmar Branch of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union on its face Book page on November 25th 2014:


On Thursday 20"' November 2014, the Union (OWTU) and the Company (Petrotrin) met at the Ministry of Labour to have conciliatory discussions for the present period of negotiations. Before this conciliation meeting, the last time that both parties met was in May 2014. Since then the Company has refused to meet and treat in good faith with the OWTU, the Recognised Majority Union. 

There are six (6) Bargaining Units with Collective Agreements that govern the terms and conditions of our Comrades in Petrotrin. They are:

1. Petrotrin Monthly Paid Bargaining Unit: February 01, 2012 — January 31, 2015.

2. Petrotrin (Trinmar) Monthly Paid Bargaining Unit: February 01, 2012 — January 31, 2015.

3. Monthly Rated Junior Staff Employees: June 01, 2011 —- May 31, 2014.

4. Petrotrin Hourly/weekly Rated Employees: August 27, 2011 — August 25, 2014.

5. Petrotrin (Trinmar) Hourly/Weekly Rated Employees: May 25, 2011 — May 24. 2014.

6. Hospital Domestic Workers and Wardsmen: November 01, 2011 - October 31, 2014.

To date four (4) of the six (6) Collective Agreements for periods extending from May 201 1 to October 2014 have already expired with the remaining two (2) due to expire by January 31, 2015. We have agreed on most of the textual non-cost items. 

At the conciliation meeting held at the Ministry Of Labour on Thursday 20th November 2014, the Company has indicated that they intend to implement a “Wage Freeze", and as a result of that they are prepared to offer their hard working and loyal employees the following:

First Year- 0%
Second Year- 0%
Third Year- 0% 

In addition to that they offered no increases on bonuses. The Company also wants to remove Article 4(e) Regulation of Contract Work. This article governs how they treat with contractors and protects jobs normally performed by permanent, casual and temporary workers. 

This article also stipulates that when contract labour is engaged, the contractor shall pay not less than the minimum rate for the particular job classification as provided in the Schedule of the existing Agreement arid, in addition, any Cost of Living Allowance and other Bonuses described in this Agreement namely: shift, height, heat, meal or subsistence that may be applicable. That is how they show their commitment!

EMPLOYERS ON THE ATTACK! WORKERS MUST FIGHT BACK!

posted 20 Nov 2014, 13:56 by Gerry Kangalee

The National Workers Union issued the following media release on 2014/11/20:

EMPLOYERS ON THE ATTACK! WORKERS MUST FIGHT BACK!

 

The National Workers Union (NWU) views with disgust, but not with surprise, the move by the management of state enterprise, National Petroleum, to appeal the judgement of the Industrial Court and the consequent stay of execution of the court order in the matter of the re-instatement of the sixty eight workers, including branch officers and shop stewards of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union, who were dismissed in the October 2013 massacre.

 

The employers, led by the state which itself is a major employer, have adopted over the last few years what can be called the Deep Pockets theory. They have launched an attack on the very heart of the trade union movement: on the workplace.

 

During the period of the Manning Administration, workers were fired at WASA and the consultant hired by that statutory authority stated that the government had deep pockets. The government does not mind losing wrongful action cases in the Industrial Court, taxpayers stand the bounce anyway.

 

They reason that it would take between one to two years for some of these issues to be resolved in the Industrial Court and in the meantime, they would have cleared out union officers, shop stewards and militants from the workplace and shift decisively the balance of power on the shop floor in their favour.

 

The idea is to intimidate and cow the workers who have not been dismissed into going into their shells over the medium term and to destroy the culture and tradition of collective action and solidarity that would have been built up in unionised workplaces over time.

 

At the same time, workers who have been dismissed for any lengthy period of time are driven from pillar to post trying to meet their commitments to banks, mortgage companies and landlords, trying to keep food on their families’ tables, trying to deal with the inevitable fallout in relationships that are bound to follow because of their change of circumstance.

 

It is clear that in their effort to implement the neo-liberal agenda which is based on wholesale transfer of income from the pockets of working people into the pockets of the employers, corrupt state officials, parasitic merchants, politically-connected contractors and banksters, the trade union movement has to be weakened and undermined.

The task of leading that charge has been shouldered by the State, regardless of which party is in power. The unions that have been in the firing line are the unions that occupy strategic positions in the economy: the OWTU, CWU, PSA and TIWU. The focus of the state and the employers is to weaken and undermine these unions.

 

We recall the injunction on PTSC workers and on Petrotrin workers; the attempt to decertify Transport and Industrial Workers Union and Communication Workers Union; the dismissal of fourteen drivers at PTSC the growing horror of contract labour in the public service which according to the last IMF article IV consultation report published last September increased: Temporary staff…from 1,920 in 2005 to 12,636 in 2011, while new permanent appointments declined from 916 to 628.”

 

The Regional Health Authorities have thousands of workers on short term contracts in a situation where there is no recognised majority union. The brutal firing of all the branch representatives of the OWTU in the wake of the strike at TCL two years ago is another example of the co-ordinated attack on the trade union movement as was the  attempt to decertify the Steel Workers Union for taking illegal industrial action when, in fact, Arcelor Mittal had locked out the workers who objected to unilateral variation in their contract of work; as is the dismissal of a branch officer of the CWU at Hilton Hotel and the branch president of the Trinmar branch of OWTU.

 

Of course this approach by the employers, led by the State, goes hand in hand with the refusal to amend the labour laws which are heavily biased against workers and, in particular, to clean up the disgraceful state of affairs at the Recognition Board where workers applications for recognition take years to be determined and now there has not been a Recognition Board in place for months and months.

 

Comrade Christopher Henry, President of the Steel Workers Union, said it well: They are continually testing the system; using their deep pockets to frustrate theprocess, while the unions continued fight is against terminations of workerswithout cause, layoffs every Monday morning at their own whims and fancies.”

 

The National Workers Union calls upon all working people, unionised or not, to recognise what is happening. Unionised workers must put aside partisan political allegiances and defend their interests as working people with all the tools at their disposal through mass solidarity and collective action and not adopt the attitude that they will get “justice” at the Industrial Court. Even if the Court rules in favour of the workers, often the damage is already done and the union significantly weakened.

 

Non-unionised workers must organise themselves and join or form unions that are going to seek their interest in this ongoing battle with employers and the capitalists.



 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

FITUN DEFENDS INDUSTRIAL COURT PRESIDENT: REMY WRITES CARMONA

posted 29 Oct 2014, 19:40 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 29 Oct 2014, 20:11 ]

Joseph Remy
The following letter was sent to President Anthony Carmona by Joseph Remy, President of the
President Anthony Carmona
Federation Of Independent Trade Unions and NGO’s. It is dated October 22nd 2014.

Your Excellency I am acting in my capacity as President of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non Governmental Organisations, FITUN, a cross functional Federation representative of leading Trade Unions, Farmers Groups and other Civil Society Organisations which seeks to advance the interests of our member units in their quest for equity and social justice.

FITUN wishes to place on record its appreciation for the work that the Industrial Court has been doing within recent times. On the eve of the celebration of the SO"` Anniversary of the Court, the Trade Union Movement is now more assured about the relevance of the Court after our initial trepidation about the original ideological construct of the Court. This led the Movement to believe that the Court was designed to quell the progressive nature of Trade Unions and corral them into a more acquiescent role of accepting justice as designed by the employer class.

Over the ensuing years and more particularly under the leadership of the current President, the Movement has developed much more respect for the Court and has seen the Court morphed into an Institution where we feel we are now seeing a level of fairness in the administration of justice for and on behalf of the working class.

Your Excellency, recent developments have caused quite a lot of consternation among practitioners of the Court, particularly among those from the Labour Movement. These developments as observed by our Federation indicate in a very lucid manner that there appears to be a concerted attempt to undermine the Independence of the Industrial Court, particularly so under the leadership of the current President of the Court. Recent appointments of Judges to serve on the Bench of the Court have generated a lot of questions in the minds of our Federation.

Industrial Court President, Deborah Thomas-Felix

There has been an established practice, consistent with the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act, of balancing the composition of the Judges Panel with suitably qualified and competently proven practitioners from the Trade Union Movement to ensure that deliberations coming out of this Jurisprudence reflect the tenets of Good and Proper Industrial Practice.

This practice also ensured that there was a level of confidence in the Court where workers originally felt that justice was not equitably dispensed because the scale tilted heavily in favour of the employer. For some time now, FITUN has not seen enough experienced and competent Trade Union Practitioners appointed to serve as Judges in the Court, this has created a perceived imbalance that is of serious concern to us.

Your Excellency, for the avoidance of doubt, we wish to also make it pellucidly clear that FITUN holds no personal brief for the current President. Our concerns however are grounded by the recent advances that we have noticed in the performance of the Court under the astute leadership of the current President. We have noticed and seen for the first time a clear vision for the Court, one that is grounded in the principle that Justice delayed is Justice denied.

The vision is also grounded in the principle of enhancing the quality of judgments coming out of the Court and creating the environment for the deepening of a more meaningful relationship between the powers and authority of Employers to advance their business and the desire to ensure that the cause of workers is respected and advanced, all in the best interest of the social and economic development of Trinidad and Tobago.

Your Excellency, the Federation has taken note of the following undeniable facts:


  • The current President is the first Female President appointed to serve at the Court.

  • She has cleared the very vexatious backlog that bedeviled the Court over the years and created mistrust in the minds of workers.

  • She has began the process of Judicial Education Training for all Judges of the Court to enhance the quality of judgments coming out of the Court.

  • She has embarked on a process of digitization of all material at the Library which has been ongoing since 2012.

  • She has introduced a shareholders symposium which is quite useful in serving as a teaching exercise for all shareholders and has proven to be very beneficial to all.

  • She has increased and improved on the delivery of training and developmental activities for staff at the Court.

  • She has introduced a shareholders kiosk, electronic signage and video conferencing at the Court.

  • She has introduced a statistical bulletin at the Court.

  • She has been the first President to have published Annual Reports of the performance and operations of the Court since 2012 which has been laid in Parliament.

  • The entire experience of seeking justice at the Court has been enhanced and the operations have been noticeably improved.

  • Our observation has revealed that no President has left the Court since its inception before the age of sixty-nine (69) years. The predecessor to this President left at the age of seventy-three (73).

Your Excellency, FITUN has taken note of the provisions of Section 4 (3) of the Industrial Relations Act which states:

The Court shall consist of the following members:
“(a) a President of the Court who shall be -

(1) a Judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature designated, with his consent, by the President of Trinidad and Tobago after consultation with the Chief Justice.

(b) a Vice-President of the Court, who shall be a barrister or solicitor of not less than ten years standing, appointed by the President of Trinidad and Tobago;

(c) Such number or other members as may be determined by the President of Trinidad and Tobago from time to time who shall be appointed by the President of Trinidad and Tobago from among persons experienced in industrial relations or qualified as economists or accountants, or who are barristers or solicitors of not less than five years standing.”

In the circumstances your Excellency, FITUN wishes to state that the confidence of members of the working class rests in the qualitative appointments to serve on the bench of this superior court of record. In particular, the Trade Union Movement takes its confidence in appointments that sends the signal that the scales of justice are balanced to ensure that equity prevails.

 We are therefore expressing our deep concerns about recent appointments that are creating the perception of being politically influenced as this will certainly erode the perceived independence of the Court and create an atmosphere and environment of industrial instability.

We certainly believe that the Court should be allowed to realise its innate potential consistent with its current vision and leadership thrust and should not be allowed to be entangled in perceived political mischief and manipulation that seems to have engulfed some other Independent Institutions in our country.

Your Excellency, FITUN looks forward to you continuing to exercise your powers and judgment as envisaged in the provisions of Constitution of the country and the Industrial Relations Act, to ensure that all these negative perceptions and unease that currently exists among practitioners of the Industrial Court are expunged from their minds, and, the confidence that was so present in the Court under the leadership of the current President, would permeate the Industrial Relations Climate all in the interest of the social and economic development of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

We at FITUN look forward to your appointments to the Court with the requisite diligence and transparency, mindful of the strides that the Court has made in recent times.






















CWU: NO BUSINESS AS USUAL AT HILTON

posted 1 Oct 2014, 21:04 by Gerry Kangalee

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) issued the following statement on September 30th 2014 in its newsletter called FORWARD:

Comrades, within recent times we have noticed that the foreign management at Hilton has decided to take on the Communication Workers’ Union and its members at the Hilton. These attacks began subsequent to the settlement of the last negotiations when House Slave Leroy Browne reneged on an agreement to make temporary workers permanent and to put the necessary framework in place to implement a Pension Plan for Hilton Workers. 
 
We also had the insensitive termination of some sixty odd part-time workers on carnival Tuesday whilst guests and nationals were participating in our carnival celebrations. What followed on from the Union’s attempts to have this matter discussed and resolved was an open display of arrogance, disrespect and utter contempt for the Recognised Majority Union by the House Slave, Bajan National, Leroy Browne. Recently we had the dismissal of two supervisors who are also members and supporters of the Union for spurious allegations and without giving them the opportunity to defend themselves in accordance with the laws of natural justice. 
 
In addition to this, some of our members were threatened with disciplinary action for allegedly being involved in activities they were not party to. Additionally, one of our General Council members was suspended with pay, pending an investigation into an alleged act of insubordination, when in fact the worker was standing up for his rights after he was disrespected by the now infamous House Slave, Leroy Browne. 
 
Comrades, these attacks against you, our members cannot go unnoticed. Leroy Browne needs to be reminded that “Slavery Days” are over! This is Trinidad and Tobago! This is the land where “Every Creed and Race, find an Equal Place”. As Nationals of Trinidad and Tobago we are owners of the Hilton as the State has 100% shareholder interest in the hotel. As such we must not sit idly by and allow foreign nationals like Leroy Browne, Yanet Torro and Umesh Meera to attack workers who have given years of committed labour to ensure that the Hotel continues to provide an efficient and professional service to its guests. 
 
Leroy Browne is pretending to be a “Good Samaritan” but in truth, he is a “Black Stone Stooge” and like a snake he is set to release his poisonous Anti-Worker venom! Workers do not be fooled by their “Ole Talk”! It is all tricks to distract you from the real issues. Their recent actions have signaled their intent to launch an offensive against the Union in order to put fear in the minds of workers so that they could gradually begin to implement their plans which are not in the best interest of workers and in most cases are in violation of the Collective Agreement. 
 
Comrades, we need to be ever vigilant as we perform our duties, we must report any violations of the Collective Agreement to the Union, we must report any acts of intimidation, victimization, discrimination or unfair distribution of labour.

We must also be prepared to unite as workers and participate and support mobilization activities as we bring to the attention of the national community, the backward Industrial Relations and Management Practices and unsafe working conditions which exists at the Hotel, the disrespect for the Recognised Majority Union, the abuse of and victimization of workers when they stand up for their rights, the refusal to implement a Pension plan for Hilton Workers some of whom have over 30 years’ service with the Hotel and the refusal to make temporary and part time workers permanent after being in the employ of the Hotel in some cases for over 20 years. 
 
Comrades, it cannot be business as usual, Leroy and his blind followers have declared war against us; so, we have the right to defend ourselves and our property, which is our jobs. Leroy Browne and his foreign associates must not be allowed to disrespect us anymore. They must understand that there can be no Industrial Peace without Justice.

CWU QUESTIONS TSTT’S CEO APPOINTMENT

posted 22 Sep 2014, 08:33 by Gerry Kangalee

CWU QUESTIONS TSTT’S CEO APPOINTMENT



The following statement was issued on September 19th 2014 by Secretary General of the Communication Workers Union, Joseph Remy.


The Communication Workers’ Union would like to publicly express its grave concerns with respect to confirmed reports that at a Special Meeting held today, Friday 19th September 2014, the Board of Directors have taken the decision to appoint neophyte, Ronald Walcott as the new Chief Executive Officer of Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited with immediate effect.

This appointment and the sudden acceptance of the resignation of the Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr. George Hill, come at a very critical time for the Company. TSTT is in the midst of a battle waged by Cable and Wireless who from all indications are supported by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago in their quest for a third Mobile License to compete with themselves as 49% Shareholders in TSTT.

The CWU also finds it quite surprising that the front man, who have been pushing and articulating the concept of Organizational Transformation on a weekly basis throughout the Company, has suddenly found himself in a position where he now would have to undergo his own personal transformation. While we hold no brief for Mr. Hill, we are quite concerned with the manner in which this decision was made.

Reports have it that the instructions to accept Mr. Hill’s resignation and to appoint Mr. Walcott came from the People’s Partnership Government. Our investigation has revealed that Mr. Walcott is a member/supporter of the Congress of the People, (COP) the UNC "B" Team in the People’s Partnership Government and his appointment is part of the Partnership‘s plan to entrench their Party Hacks and Cronies in key Senior positions within TSTT just as they are now doing with other State Enterprises. It appears that this is a move to place their party supporters in key positions in various Institutions to carry out their agenda in the event they are voted out of office in 2015.

The Communication Workers‘Union condemns this political manipulation and interference in the operations at TSTT and we demand some explanation from the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister on this latest development. Mr. Walcott’s track record as the Executive Vice-President of Mobile Operations at TSTT has been nothing but pathetic.

We wish to state publicly that we have nothing personal against Mr. Walcott, but the Union is questioning his competence in the area of modern Telecommunication/Information Communication Technology, Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management, that are necessary for such a critical position in the company at such a crucial period in the organisation’s thrust to regain its competitive advantage over its competitors.

He is just another Puppet installed on the Partnership String that is being pulled by two local members of the Board of Directors who have strong links with the Junior Minister in the Ministry of Works, the Attorney General and the Prime Minister.

The CWU once again calls on those with the responsibility for the operations of TSTT to advise us of the process that was pursued with respect to the appointment of Mr. Walcott to the very important and critical position of Chief Executive Officer of TSTT.

We call on the Line Minister, Mr. Nizam Baksh and the Minister of Finance, Honourable Senator Larry Howai, who has responsibilities for the Financial Operations at TSTT, to immediately launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the appointment of Mr. Walcott to the position of Chief Executive Officer of TSTT.

We also take this opportunity to alert the Ministers of the myriad of issues that were left outstanding by Mr. Hill, inclusive of the botched VSP/EERP Program, the 2008-2010 and 2011- 2013 Wage Negotiations, the Medical Plan for the Retirees and the Political appointment of Partnership Party hacks into senior positions at the Company. We also wish to advise them that we are prepared to give them the opportunity to resolve all these outstanding issues amongst others and fix the dysfunctional relationship that exists between the TSTT Management and the CWU.

We wish to remind the Ministers that if they choose to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, then we are prepared to exercise all our legal and legitimate options, inclusive of protest action to restore some semblance of stability in the company and ensure that we regain our competitive advantage in the Telecommunication/Information Communication Technology Sector.

A word to the wise is sufficient!

 

CWU: 2015 PRELIMINARY BUDGET ANALYSIS

posted 12 Sep 2014, 21:10 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 12 Sep 2014, 21:14 ]

The Communication Workers Union published the following analysis of the 2015 budget.



A budget is an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period. Simply put it is an itemized summary of likely income and expenses for a given period. It is supposed to be an invaluable tool to help you prioritise your spending and your money regardless of how much or how little you have.

In the political arena a Government Budget is a Government document which reflects a Government’s proposed revenues and spending for a financial year. Such a Budget is supposed to answer questions such as how much money the Government spends, where are my tax dollars going, what services are to be provided in the Budget, how much will go to reducing debt, how much will be allocated to areas such as Health Care, Education, Crime etc.

Has the Minister of Finance fulfilled these theoretical aspects of a Budget; it appears so but if a careful analysis is done it would reveal that successive Finance Ministers has failed to provide a Budget document with any clear philosophy, taking into account our social, cultural and economic environment.

Additionally, nowhere in this presentation was an analysis done or a report given on what was supposed to be done in the last budget and the status of those said proposals. As such the ordinary citizens are not able to appreciate the performance of the Government based on its previous Budget Presentation. Further no mention was made of any of the critical analysis of fundamental concepts used or looked at in developing this Budget Statement.

What we have experienced once again is a political statement which began when the Prime Minister put on the hat of the Finance Minister and made a premature pronouncement on what can best be described as a “baby fund.” This pronouncement was very unethical as it is part of the Budget Statement and should have been left for delivery by the Finance Minister. Instead the Prime Minister attempted to politicise this measure in order to claim ownership of the idea.

On the surface some of the measures outlined appears to be well intended but based on recent expose and experiences with make work programmes such as Life Sport, one has to be very wary of the fallouts which initiatives like these can attract. To manage this Fund would be an administrative nightmare and it would create the opportunity for abuse and corruption by unscrupulous persons.

As such, more thought should have been given on mechanism to provide Social Services and support to the same people being targeted so that they could be guided on proper family planning, making themselves employable, and financial management, without putting any further burden on the Treasury.

We are quite disappointed with the fact that little or no mention was made about the allocation to the Ministry of Labour, where the Workers’ Agenda is supposed to be driven. Important initiatives such as the National Productivity Council and the Social Dialogue Process are all under the Ministry of Labour and are critical towards economic development.

It is also an embarrassment that in this modern era we still have workers being discriminated against as it relates to compensation because of gender and to make it worse this was being practised by the Government as an employer with former Trade Union Leaders in the Cabinet.

This Government having come into power on a Manifesto promise to make workers the centre of national development, should not have waited until its last year in office to address this situation.We however welcome the increase of the Minimum Wage but we are of the view that it is time we move away from a Minimum Wage and establish a Living Wage so that the less privileged in Society could have a decent standard of living.

As it relates to the proposed Legislation to regulate Credit Unions, it is hoped that good sense would prevail and those in authority would not blindly pursue an agenda that can destroy the philosophy of the Credit Union Movement: “People Serving people, Not for Profit, Not for Charity but for Service”, by putting restrictions/ regulations in place which could have the effect of turning a progressive Working Class Institution into a traditional financial institution the likes of which encourages classism.

We also note that no mention was made of the Government’s plan for TSTT’s shareholding arrangement which was centre stage within recent times and whilst mention was made of the settlement of outstanding negotiations in the public sector the Finance Minister as Corporation Sole with financial responsibility for TSTT is quite aware that TSTT Junior and Senior Staff Employees are still working on 2007 salaries in 2014.

Yet not one single word on the treatment of outstanding compensation packages for these workers in an essential industry which is a key driver in the development of the Telecommunication/Information Technology Infrastructure of our country.

As expected this was an election budget with a lot of Public Relations before and during the presentation, as it is the last budget presentation before the next General Elections and the People’s Partnership has played its hand by providing some goodies in order to persuade the electorate to give them another term in office, without any clear indication of how these initiatives would be financed or how implementation issues would be addressed. If our people would be fooled this time around it is left to be seen but for a Government that performed so miserably during its term of office we doubt that this latest political statement would do anything to erase the memories and missteps of the last four years.

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