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

NWU: TRADE UNIONS MUST UNITE TO DEFEAT IRA AMENDMENT BILL

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

2015-05-18

TRADE UNIONS MUST UNITE TO DEFEAT IRA AMENDMENT BILL


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



WITHDRAW THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS AMENDMENT BILL NOW! 

ONE UNION, ONE STRUGGLE! ALL UNIONS DO BATTLE!

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

NWU: IRA AMENDMENT BILL MUST NOT BE PASSED WITHOUT CONSULTATION!

posted 17 May 2015, 14:20 by Gerry Kangalee

2015-05-17

IRA AMENDMENT BILL MUST NOT BE PASSED WITHOUT CONSULTATION!


Information has come to the National Workers Union (NWU) that the government intends to pass the Industrial Relations Amendment Bill in Parliament on Wednesday May 20th, even in the face of strident protestations from the trade union movement.

The government, it seems, is determined to pass the bill and hustle it into the Senate regardless of the views of those whom the Bill directly affects; even if it means varying the clauses that require a three fourths majority, which it does not have; even if it means steam rolling the deliberate procedures which usually apply when debating and enacting laws.

 The track record of the government, when examined, reveals that they do not care about consulting those whom their policies and programmes directly affect and that they have no compunction about ambushing the population with measures which have never been discussed. One only has to remember the infamous Section 34 and the attempt to sneak into the law the notorious run off proposal which the constitution commission never discussed and which they are coming with again.

The attitude of the politicians in power fits into a tradition of authoritarianism and bullying that has prevailed since independence in the relationship between politicians and the labour movement. In 1965, the then Eric Williams administration declared a state of emergency in County Caroni and on the same day introduced the Industrial Stabilisation Act which went through all its stages in both the House and the Senate in twenty four hours and was proclaimed two days later. The Industrial Stabilisation Act, among other things, outlawed strikes.

In 1972 the Eric Williams administration, enacted the Industrial Relations Act during a state of emergency when some trade union leaders were in detention. This law, among other things, severely restricted workers ability to join a trade union of their choice. Of course consultation was out during a state of emergency.

The government, therefore, is continuing the long-standing tradition of trampling upon the interests of the people and adopting an attitude that the only things that count are those which serve the personal, sectoral and class interests of the politicians and their paymasters and the devil take the hindmost when it comes to the interest of working people.

The National Workers Union calls upon the leadership of the trade union movement to demand that the government cease all efforts to pass this bill so that the leadership of the trade union movement can make a rigorous analysis of the bill and consult with its membership through the Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch Officers (COSSABO) scheduled for Monday 25th May.

The National Workers Union urges the leadership of the trade union movement to quickly ramp up its mobilisation efforts to resist the government’s attempt to impose its distorted and perverted agenda on the workers under the guise of dealing with the Workers Agenda, which they ignored for five years. Instead of putting the workers at the centre of development we are being pushed to the sidelines to be further exploited and browbeaten by the employers. We will have no more of it!

One Movement! One Struggle! All unions do battle!

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

NWU: LABOUR MOVEMENT MUST CALL A COSSABO AND DEFEAT THE IRA AMENDMENT BILL

posted 11 May 2015, 14:20 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 11 May 2015, 14:35 ]

The National Workers Union (NWU) shares the concern of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN) about the manner in which the Industrial Relations Amendment Bill is being introduced in parliament and about the all out assault on the very existence of the trade union movement if this bill becomes law.

It is cause for great suspicion that five weeks before parliament is to be dissolved, this bill has come up for debate. For more than thirty years the trade union movement has been submitting its views on the amendment and or/repeal of the Industrial Relations Act, which we have always viewed as being an anti-worker act designed to serve the interest of employers and to keep the working class “in its place.”

It is worthy of note that the first piece of anti-labour legislation, the Industrial Stabilisation Act of 1965, was rushed through all its stages in one day in Parliament by the Eric Williams administration. This Act prohibited strikes and was designed to serve the interests of foreign capital which was being sought through the industrialisation by invitation initiative.

In 1972, the Industrial Relations Act replaced the Industrial Stabilisation Act. It was enacted during a state of emergency by the Eric Williams administration and placed severe restrictions on workers ability to join a trade union of their choice and was designed to stifle the revolutionary mood of the masses which had erupted in 1970.

Today we have yet another attempt by the gatekeepers of the employers to attack the rights of workers and trade unions by including in the Bill a clause which enables a worker who may not even be a member of a union to trigger a process which can lead to the decertification of that union if the union does not effectively represent that worker who pays no dues to the union.

This surely is an attempt to undermine the financial base of unions and make us impotent in our task to defend, advance and protect the interests of the working class. This must be resisted with all the might of the trade union movement. While the Minister of Labour, a renegade trade unionist, babbles about having consulted with the trade union movement, the first time we saw the draft bill was when it was laid in the House on May 1st.

The National Workers Union is in the process of analysing the Bill and will soon publish an in-depth statement. In the meantime we have seen enough to recognise that this Bill if it becomes law will constitute the most serious assault on the labour movement since the 1970’s.

What is striking about these three attempts to repress the trade union movement through legislation is that sell-out trade union leaders have joined with the government to attack the very interests they purport to represent. In 1965, these sell-out artists were led by Carl Tull; in 1972, by Clive Spencer and the leaders of the Labour Congress; today, by Errol McLeod and Rudranath Indarsingh.

The National Workers Union calls upon Senator James Lambert, leader of the
National Union of Government and Federated Workers, the largest union in the country and the President of the N
ational Trade Union Centre (NATUC), to publicly

disavow this Bill or join the ranks, along with his fellow government colleagues, Errol McLeod and Rudranath Indarsingh, of the most notorious traitors to the working class since the formation of the trade union movement in the nineteen thirties.

 The National Workers Union calls upon the Labour Movement to convene a Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch officers (COSSABO) as soon as possible, to not only discuss the Bill, but to devise  a strategy to defeat this Bill and force the government to withdraw it.

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

FITUN DEMANDS CONSULATATION ON IRA AMENDMENT BILL

posted 8 May 2015, 21:17 by Gerry Kangalee

On May 8th 2015 the following statement was issued by Joseph Remy, President of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs:

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non-Governmental Organizations, FITUN, would like to express its grave concerns with respect to the Bill that was laid in the House of Representatives on Friday 1st May, 2015, by the Minister of Labour, Small and Micro Enterprise Development, to amend the existing Industrial Relations Act, the IRA.

Our preliminary review of the provisions contained within this Bill sends some very worrying signals to FITUN and by extension all Trade Unions within its fold. While we have not had the opportunity to do an in-depth analysis of the entire Bill, we have observed and carefully noted "Part VA" of the Bill whose heading;

 "CANCELLATION OF CERTIFICATE OF RECOGNITION AND OTHER SANCTIONS FOR FAILURE TO REPRESENT A MEMBER OR WORKER",

is of major concern to us. The provisions contained within this Part, makes it mandatory for a Trade Union to represent a worker, even though that worker refuses to join the Union and pay Union Dues. In essence, this effectively says to workers that they don't have to be a dues paying member of a Union to be given representation by the Recognized Majority Union. We see this as strangling and choking the Unions ability to operate and give effective representation to all its members.

In addition to this provision, "Part VA", gives those same non members of the Union the right to Petition the Industrial Court to seek to have the Trade Union's Certificate of Recognition cancelled if they feel that as non-members, they were not given effective representation.

These new provisions are diametrically opposed to the positions adopted in recent public statements made by the Minister of Labour, Small and Micro Enterprise Development, who, albeit wrongfully, alluded to his Government’s efforts to save three (3) Unions from the threat of the Cancellation of their Certificate of Recognition in 2010, when in fact the attempt to cancel the Certificate of Recognition of those Trade Unions was made in 2009.

In addition, they are totally opposed to the recommendations of the Workers Agenda of 2010.

FITUN has also observed that there are other provisions contained within this Bill which are aimed directly at the heart of the Trade Union Movement. Once again, just as happened when the Industrial Stabilization Act and subsequently the Industrial Relations Acts were enacted, we are seeing an obscene act of collusion between the Government, the Employer Class and Big Business, in collaboration with those reactionary and backward elements of the Trade Union Movement to curtail the progressive march of the Independent Trade Unions. 

These provisions, if allowed to become Law, will see the wanton exploitation of workers and the entrenchment of Contract Work in Trinidad and Tobago. Workers would be left more defenceless against the rampaging exploits of unscrupulous Employers who would use every opportunity to exploit and victimize workers’ and disenfranchise the work place democracy that was engendered by the progressive Trade Union Movement.

What is quite disturbing is the fact that as a Federation, we were not consulted on this Draft Bill before it was laid in Parliament. Oh what a shame on those who are supposed to know better! It is also a crying shame that these draconian provisions are perpetrated on workers by those who cosmetically cloaked themselves in the robes of Trade Unionism in the past, but now that they have tasted the seductive cocktail of state power, they have brazenly stripped themselves naked and have exposed their selfishness, greed and treacherous tendencies.

FITUN is calling on all right thinking Trade Unionist to take a stand against this attack on the Trade Union Movement. We demand that this Bill be withdrawn from the Parliament and the Trade Union Movement be allowed the opportunity to examine its provisions, thereafter there must be a period of genuine consultation between all affected parties and interest groups to arrive at a way forward for any amendment to the Industrial Relations Act. We commit to mobilize all workers to mount a strong challenge against this anti-worker and anti-Trade Union Bill.

NHWU: TIME TO FIX HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

posted 5 May 2015, 20:34 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 5 May 2015, 20:49 ]

On 2015-05-05  the National Health Workers Union wrote the following letter to Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago

The National Health Workers Union (NHWU), an affiliate of the National Workers Union
(NWU),which is in the process of organising health care workers throughout the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs), issued a media release dated April 30, 2015, making a public call for the dismissal of the Minister of Health.


We are now corresponding with you as to why, not only is this absolutely necessary, to avoid the complete breakdown of the health care system, but what can be done in the short term to give the system the kiss of life, so that the people of Trinidad and Tobago can benefit from an efficient, and affordable system, something from which they are certainly not benefitting now.

The minister has begun to backpedal on the ridiculous changes he announced, only because of the stiff resistance his measures faced across the health sector from the unions and professional associations.

Under the watch of Minister of Health Dr. Fuad Khan the health system, dysfunctional since the 1950’s, has reached a new low. When the person who is charged with the responsibility for ensuring that citizens have a reliable and affordable public health system blames the people he leads for his inability to do so, then he is an abject failure as a manager/leader and must be relieved of his responsibility.

If you don’t like the job, Minister Khan tells health workers, you can leave! What a simple, elegant solution! How will the workers leaving solve the problems of the public health system? According to official statistics, in the North Central Regional Health Authority alone, there are, at least, six hundred and fifty vacancies to be filled, and in the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) there are three thousand four hundred and thirteen (3413) vacancies, nine hundred and ninety-two (992) of them being nursing vacancies. 

NURSE TO PATIENT RATIO

According to the World Health Organisation, the nurse to patient ratio should be 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 to twenty two patients and this has been made worse since the advent of the Teaching Hospital. This is unsafe and puts both nurse and patient at risk.

In a statement issued on 2014-12-31 by nursing personnel at the San Fernando General Hospital and the Teaching Hospital it is stated that the staff shortages “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.”

The statement goes on to say: “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.”

If in the midst of such debilitating shortages, the goodly Minister can rant and rave at health care personnel and attempt to show them the door! On the surface it makes no sense, but when it is considered that in some quarters the minister is referred to not as the Minister of Health but as the Minister for the advancement of private health care controlled by his medical entrepreneur colleagues, it does begin to make sense.

It is becoming clearer that the Minister is not really interested in ensuring in the words of the Health Sector Reform Programme Project Completion Report dated July 1996 in improving “the health status of the population of Trinidad and Tobago by promoting wellness and providing affordable quality health care in an efficient and equitable manner.”

Instead, this Minister who did not know he could not maintain his private practice while sitting in Cabinet, is most interested in promoting the External Patients Programme (EPP) which has been described as benefitting a clique of medical doctors masquerading as public officers in the public health system while actually operating a private hospital sector funded by the state.
This scandalous situation has moved from one where medical capitalists masquerading as doctors would whisper in patients ears that they should attend their private hospitals to one where public health institutions have become a gathering station for those in need of medical procedures. 

Public health institutions now play the role of holding bays and clearing houses for the routing of patients into the arms of the medical mafia and the state pays – all very legal and above board as are many instances of looting public funds for private enrichment. 

This situation will continue to plague the system as long as these masqueraders are allowed to work in both the public and private health systems. As the election approaches there seems to be a mad scramble to squeeze out every cent from the public coffers as the system is now being extended to sixteen private dialysis centres and through the nefarious public-private partnership two centres are slated to be built in collaboration with Comprehensive Nephrology Services Ltd and Biomedical Medical Technology Ltd. The first company, which very few know anything about, is based at Lamp Post 105 Monroe Road and the other at 137 Eastern Main Road, St. Augustine. The terms of the public-private partnership have not been revealed; neither have the track records of the two firms, which seem to exist only on paper.  

In his speech on Public Private Partnership at the Hyatt on Tuesday November 1st, 2011 the Minister of Finance spoke of privatising public utilities, ports, airports, health care provision and pensions.

When it is taken into consideration that from the very early days of your administration your government opted for a policy of widespread divestment/privatisation, it would be naïve of us to believe that Minister Khan’s position is peculiar to himself and not to your government.

According to the Alma Ata declaration coming out of the International Conference on Primary Health Care in September 1978 and which was co-sponsored by the World Health Organisation Health: "which is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, is a fundamental human right and that the attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important world-wide social goal …”

Your government seems prepared to violate this fundamental human right at the altar of filling the pockets of your supporters and friends with public funds which are supposed to be utilised for the public good and not for the private accumulation of capital.

The Minister was cited in a newspaper article as saying: “You can’t be tired or frustrated from the time you enter to when you leave…there are a lot of people who want to come in as caregivers.”

How come with the horrendous shortages in staff and with so many people wanting to come in as caregivers, the staffing situation has not been improved. Does the Minister not realise that the very people who come into the health system with high ideals and expectations quickly become demoralised and burnt out when they have to operate under the horrific conditions subsisting in the public health system? 

SERIOUS DEFICITS

These conditions in all the Regional Health Authorities include: serious deficits in terms of equipment staff, medication, utensils and everyday products. According to Senator Dr. Victor Wheeler, in moving a motion at the fifteenth sitting of fifth session of the tenth parliament on Tuesday January 20th 2015, calling for a comprehensive review of the regional health authority system.

"There is also a shortage of midwives; shortage of foetal monitors...The system clearly is not efficient. But in spite of all of these problems, I should state that there are many committed personnel in the health sector. There are many committed doctors, nurses and midwives who will still perform above and beyond the call of duty, and they are given little recognition for this.


With respect to the other powers of the RHA—operating, construct, maintain equipment—this certainly has been substandard. It is not adequate…We have in 2014 new hospitals being built, when currently, for the hospitals that are in existence we have a shortage of specialists, shortage of nurses, shortage of midwives, shortage of lab managers, shortage of staff. My concern is, when these new hospitals that are planned to be built are opened, I am just wondering where we are going to get the staff from” Dr. Wheeler is himself an employee of a regional health authority.

Dr. Wheeler also stated: “Because many of the workers in the Regional Health Authority system were on contract, the environment for victimization flourished, and the introduction of the RHA system in Trinidad and Tobago brought a lot of uncertainty and instability,” and also said: “the manner in which permanent appointment was given to health care personnel did not demonstrate any logic or basis by which some people were given permanent employment, and others were not.”

This assessment of Dr. Wheeler’s dovetails with a statement issued by the National Workers Union on June 6th 2014 which stated: “Management of the RHA’s is based on political allegiance and not on providing a first class health service to the citizens. The industrial relations are abysmal and lead to low morale and frustration on the part of employees who are not connected to the party in power...”

Because there are no recognised majority unions in the RHA’s, except for the National Union of Government and Federated Workers which represents daily paid employees throughout the RHA’s and the Medical Professionals Association, which represents doctors in the South West Regional Health Authority, compensation packages are falling behind and terms of work do not evolve to raise the standards of the conditions of work. Because of the political intervention in day to day operations of the RHA’s hiring and promotions are not transparent. Incompetent management and horrible industrial relations also contribute to the backlog.

Dr. Khan announced thirteen new regulations at health institutions which are to take effect from May 1st (two days after his grand announcement). He boasted: “I have to formulate a system and a plan if the system is not working which was there for 20 or 30 years. I have to find something in the interim to fix patients’ safety.”

FOUNT OF ALL WISDOM

This is precisely where the problem lies! Government Ministers believe that because they sit in cabinet, they suddenly become the fount of all wisdom! Instead of consulting with those who are in the kitchen and feeling the heat, he rolls out grand plans that he has plucked from the air and attempts to impose them upon those who have to implement them.

Fuad Khan playing the fool with the nation's health
With whom did Dr. Khan consult to come up with his new rules? Certainly not with the health care workers! This is not surprising. This has always been the style of those who are charged with managing the health care system. According to the statement of the nursing personnel in San Fernando cited earlier: “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”.


According to the newspaper report (Daily Express April 30th 2015) “Khan said the Regional Health Authority system was supposed to address issues regarding the professionalism of the health care worker through appraisals and contracts, but the system has failed...The RHA system has collapsed, because everyone is being made permanent. At the end of the three or four years you are now called a permanent employee to continue your permanent behaviour,” he said.

The contempt with which the Minister holds the employees of the health system has now become pellucidly clear. The Minister believes that workers should have a master-servant relationship with their employers. He believes that workers must not have job security and should be kept in a situation of limbo when it comes to being able to plan for their future.

The truth is that throughout the RHA’s and more and more in the public service and in the private sector, employers are opting for a contract labour system which eschews permanent employment in favour of rank exploitation and which also makes it difficult for these workers to exercise their constitutional right to join a trade union.

In the RHA’s contract employment is the favoured form of employment and contracts are varied at will making these workers incapable of organising their business going forward in terms of bank loans, mortgages, significant investments etc. Instead of advancing the interests of health care workers by moving them away from the contract system, the Minister whinges about permanent workers’ behaviour and moans and whines as if to imply that permanent employment should be done away with.

SHOCKING IGNORANCE

The Minister exposes his shocking ignorance about the situation in the health sector over which he presides by making the unbelievable statement that in offending situations, doctors could be suspended, but nurses could not since they were protected by unions. Does Dr. Khan not know that except for the daily paid workers and the doctors in the South West Regional Authority, there are no unions in any of the RHA’s that have recognised majority union status, which means that these workers are not covered by a collective agreement that spells out their terms and conditions of work?

The Public Service Association is prohibited by the Industrial Relations Act from gaining recognised majority union status for health and hospital workers, the Registered Nurses Association which was recently transformed into a union seems to be concentrating on only organising nursing personnel and the National Health Workers Union is in the process of organising monthly paid workers throughout the RHA’s but has not yet reached critical mass in order to make an application to the Recognition Board, although that time is not too far away.

In any case if disciplinary action is to be taken against any worker in this country, whether unionised or not, whether working in a fast food restaurant or as a doctor in a public or private institution, it has to be demonstrated that the action is for just cause, the worker has the right to be heard in her own defence and to be afforded due process in pursuing the matter. It is embarrassing to say the least that a minister in the government of Trinidad and Tobago has no clue about basic matters like these.

Dr. Khan said he would authorise the use of cameras by patients or relatives to capture footage of the care they receive by health care personnel. Is he also going to authorise health care personnel to capture footage of the treatment meted out to them by frustrated members of the public or footage of the shady dealings taking place at senior management level on an everyday basis when it comes to dealing with equipment and violation of procedures in the hospitals.

While much has to be done to provide an efficient, reliable and affordable health system which would involve a comprehensive review of the health system and radical action to bring it up to scratch, in the interim, there are many short term measures that can be taken. 

-The National Health Workers Union, therefore, calls for the dismissal of Dr. Fuad Khan as Minister of Health. If he remains in the portfolio, do not be surprised if a massive revolt erupts throughout the public health care sector with consequences which can only be described as catastrophic. To be forewarned is to be forearmed!

-The dual track system of senior medical personnel operating in both the public and private health care systems must be abolished. 

-The horrendous contract system must be done away with, so that our workers may enjoy job security, without which they cannot properly plan the future of their families and have no access to mortgage loans etc. 

-Mechanisms must be put in place to fill the thousands of vacancies in the public health care system.


In the service of the working class.

Dave Smith
General Secretary

NWU: T&T WORKERS REPLACED BY SOUTH AMERICAN WORKERS ON POINT FORTIN HIGHWAY

posted 4 May 2015, 21:31 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 4 May 2015, 21:37 ]

2015-05-05

 

T&T WORKERS REPLACED BY SOUTH AMERICAN WORKERS ON POINT FORTIN HIGHWAY

 

The National Workers Union (NWU) calls upon the National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO), the Ministry of National Security and the Licensing Authority to explain why NIDCO is allowing OAS Construtora, the Brazilian firm building the Point Fortin Highway, to import hundreds of South American workers to operate as truck drivers, excavator operators, graders and even to do masonry and carpentry.


Migrant workers just out of the maxi taxis at Golconda

Not only are these workers doing jobs that citizens of T&T have been doing for decades, but are, in fact, displacing nationals of this country. These workers, from all reports, hail from Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela.ot only are these workers doing jobs that citizens of T&T have been doing for decades, but are, in fact, displacing nationals

The National Workers Union reminds the country that OAS Construtora is deeply involved in the corruption scandal in Brazil where in a massive money laundering scandal at Petrobras, Brazil’s state run Oil Company. OAS overpriced construction projects on Petrobras refineries and bribed politicians to get state construction contracts.

Several OAS executives were arrested when Brazilian police raided OAS headquarters in São Paulo last year including the head of its main construction division. In November last year José Adelmário Pinheiro Filho, president of OAS, was arrested and was only released under conditions of house arrest a few days ago. 

The company, which has been suspended from bidding for government contracts has found it difficult to refinance debt and borrow new cash, has failed to pay interest on hundreds of millions of dollars of global bonds and other debt instruments. The company has filed for bankruptcy in the Brazilian courts.

Fitch, the rating firm, has cut OAS rating to C, meaning that its bonds are now considered junk bonds and have stated that OAS and its subsidiaries are likely to default on their debt in the near future.

OAS has been building a subway system in São Paulo since the mid 2000s. Nearly ten years on less than 13% of the project has been completed. It one of the construction teams building the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, the largest water power project in the world, and the cost overrun on that dam run into billions.

This is the company that the government has folded to its bosom to undertake the largest infrastructural project in the country’s history – a company deeply mired in money laundering, graft and corruption and infamous for massive cost overruns on its megaprojects. The relationship between OAS and the government of T&T seems to be birds of a feather sticking together.


Carson Charles, the president of NIDCO, has been cited in the media as saying the South American workers, a further one hundred and fifty of whom arrived on the Golconda camp on Saturday, were brought in because of a labour shortage in critical areas. So, all of a sudden citizen of T&T no longer drive Heavy T vehicles, are unable to operate construction equipment, to do masonry, carpentry and steel bending. Mr. Charles must explain why the sudden influx of hundreds of these workers.

He must reveal what are the conditions to which these workers are subjected; how does their remuneration compare to that of locals doing the same job; how much does it cost to house them; where are they housed; why are locals being forced to train them; whether nationals are being terminated in favour of these workers?

Carson Charles has a duty to answer these questions because more than seven billion dollars in public funds are being expended on this controversial project and it is the right of citizens to know how their money is being spent, particularly when there is a suspicion that some of it is being routed into the pockets of migrant workers who may be the unwitting pawns in a massive money laundering scheme, given the history of OAS Construtora and the well-known venality of our eat-a-food politicians.

The National Workers Union calls upon the Ministry of National Security to explain why these workers have been granted work permits, as Carson Charles claims; what are the conditions governing the granting of these permits and what is the time frame for which these work permits are valid? If they have not been granted work permits why are they being allowed to work in T&T to the detriment of local workers?

The National Workers Union calls upon the Licensing Authority to say whether the South American truck drivers and heavy equipment operators have been granted licenses to operate equipment in T&T; if they have not been so granted what is the Authority doing about the situation? The Authority must say whether they are aware of any of these workers being involved in an accident and whose “permit” was in Spanish.

The National Workers Union calls upon the government to say whether this influx of South American workers onto the Point Fortin Highway project is to ensure that the Debe to Mon Desir section of the highway is completed before the elections are held.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

THE MINISTER OF HEALTH MUST BE REMOVED

posted 30 Apr 2015, 14:26 by Gerry Kangalee

2015-04-30


The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) calls on the Prime Minister to immediately remove Health Minister Dr. Fuad Khan from his position or risk a massive revolt by health care workers throughout the country.

Under the watch of Minister of Health Dr. Fuad Khan, the health system has reached a new low. When the person who is charged with the responsibility for ensuring that citizens have a reliable and affordable public health system blames the people he leads for his inability to do so, then he is an abject failure as a manager/leader and must be relieved of his responsibility. In other words, the Prime minister must fire him! 

Dr. Khan announced thirteen new regulations at health institutions which are to take effect from May 1st (two days after his grand announcement). He boasted: “I have to formulate a system and a plan if the system is not working which was there for 20 or 30 years. I have to find something in the interim to fix patients’ safety.”

This is precisely where the problem lies! Government Ministers believe that because they sit in cabinet, they suddenly become the fount of all wisdom! Instead of consulting with those who are in the kitchen and feeling the heat, he rolls out grand plans that he has plucked from the air and attempts to impose them upon those who have to implement them with no care for the horrendous consequences that will flow from the foolishness which he has instructed.

With whom did Dr. Khan consult to come up with his new rules? Certainly not with the health care workers! This is not surprising. This has always been the style of those who are charged with managing the health care system.

Therefore from Friday May 1st, relatives of patients are expected to descend upon the health care facilities with camera phone in hand. There are no facilities for those who have to stay twenty four hours a day to sleep, change, use the bathroom etc. Nothing along those lines has been worked out. There are hardly adequate facilities for patients themselves as it is, but Dr. Khan sits in his ivory tower and unleashes a wave of disorder on to the health system under the guise of fixing the problems.

The change in visiting hours is not well thought out because it did not arise from a proper analysis of its consequences. Visitors will be all over the hospitals in the morning when shifts are being handed over which involves information being transmitted to workers taking over as to the situation of patients during the night, the handover of notes etc.

Patients, visitors and health care personnel will be getting in each others’ way; the new morning visiting hours is precisely the time when doctors are making their rounds; misunderstandings and conflicts are going to arise and chaos and disorder could well be the result, especially if due to the Minister’s statement, visitors believe they have the right to follow health care personnel around filming their every move.

Is Dr. Khan also going to authorise health care personnel to capture footage of the treatment meted out to them by frustrated members of the public or footage of the shady dealings taking place at senior management level on an everyday basis when it comes to dealing with equipment and violation of procedures in the hospitals.

Dr. Khan is obviously out of his depth as a Minister of government and should be put out of his misery and removed forthwith as the Minister of Health.

If he remains in the portfolio, do not be surprised if unrest and resistance erupts throughout the public health care sector with consequences which can only be described as catastrophic. To be forewarned is to be forearmed! Get rid of Fuad Khan now!


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sylvan Wilson, Executive Officer National Workers Union 758 8933

SANDO HEALTH CARE WORKERS KEEP OPERATING THEATRES FUNCTIONAL

posted 24 Apr 2015, 15:52 by Gerry Kangalee

The National Health Workers Union, an afilliate of the National Workers Union issued the following statement on 2015-04-24

 Further to the news release issued by the National Health Workers Union (NHWU) dated 22/4/2015 on the total breakdown of air conditioning at the new wing of the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH), the union further points out some of the specific hazards and stress issues being borne by staff in the operating theatres. 

It a well-known fact that most patients requiring elective surgery are on waiting lists that can run for years, so that missing an assigned date will result in going back to the end of the line. Even more importantly is the critical need to maintain specific and controlled conditions in the theatre to minimize/prevent the growth of germs and bacteria. The following are excerpts of comments from staff who work in the affected operating theatres. 

“The air-conditioning unit at the Main Operating Theatre, San Fernando General Hospital has been malfunctioning for roughly over a month.

As stated by the engineers, normal working temperature should be between seventeen to eighteen degrees Celsius.  When tested, the result was twenty-two to twenty-six degrees Celsius. The actual event with regard to the air-conditioning unit on a daily basis would be: on mornings the environment would be cool, not cold, by midday the temperature becomes unbearable. 

Various complaints were expressed to management via Head-Nurses with the response of “Letters were being written to those in charge and awaiting solutions.”  

On Tuesday 21st, staff decided that enough is enough and that some decisive action should be taken and a meeting was demanded of Hospital and Nursing Administration at 2 pm. 

They all agreed that the condition is not conducive to a good working environment and decided that the Theatre would run on a 7 am to 12 midday shift. It was requested that most of the staff assume duty for 7 am. This is to facilitate the running of the elective list. After midday the emergency cases would be done in the coolest theatre. 

It was also agreed that an additional filtered water supply and soft drinks will be catered to the staff. All other categories of staff were informed of same. These measures were to be implemented until the problem is rectified.

Update of Present Situation: 

·         Staff turn out for 7 am was favourable.

·         Surgery lists were adjusted to suit the timing.

·         The hot, humid temperature still exists.

·         At 12:30pm three patients were in the recovery room.

·         The Orthopaedic Theatre was about to finish its last case.

·         The Emergency Theatre had one ongoing case.

·         Reception area had no ongoing activity.

While all this is going on the Minister continues to play PR with health care issues and lambast health care workers and Nursing personnel in particular. The goodly Minister has not seen it fit to visit the beleaguered employees and to publicly commend them for their devotion to duty, nor has he seen it fit to demand explanation from the Board of Directors nor senior management why it is that no urgent action was taken to effect repairs when the first air condition unit failed and the mad scramble only began after the last one died. Mr. Minister, stop the PR and do the work.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sylvan Wilson, Executive Officer National Workers Union 758 8933

SANDO HOSPITAL IN STATE OF COLLAPSE

posted 22 Apr 2015, 19:31 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 22 Apr 2015, 19:32 ]

The National Health Workers Union, an affiliate of the National Workers Union issued the following statement on April 22nd 2015:

SANDO HOSPITAL IN STATE OF COLLAPSE

The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) is
outraged at the scandalous and extremely hazardous situation which exists at the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) and additionally roundly condemns the Minister of Health Dr. Fuad Khan for his callous, malicious and unwarranted attacks on nursing personnel at the Port of Spain General Hospital (POSGH).

The “new wing” of SFGH (not the Teaching Hospital) has been without air condition service for over two weeks. The two units that provided central cooling to the building have broken down and estimates suggest that they may be inoperable for between another four (4) to six (6) weeks.

This situation poses great risk to the health and wellbeing of all staff, patients, visitors and even their families at home. A hospital is not an office facility but one which services hundreds of people on a daily basis with a wide ranging number of illnesses.  Ventilation and adequate air circulation are key components in the maintenance of proper hygiene of such facilities. Anyone with knowledge of the new wing and its cousin, the Teaching Hospital, would be aware that they are totally dependent on a continuous supply of air conditioning.

One of the two units at the “new wing” broke down some months ago and very little effort was made to have it repaired; therefore when the second unit failed it has resulted in total chaos. Costly and ineffective temporary fixes are being tried but with little success. In the meantime patients and staff are subjected to sweltering heat and poor ventilation. Patients have to be rescheduled after waiting months for their visits and staff are becoming ill due to the oppressive conditions but continue to display their usual duty of care and commitment to their patients.

Over a dozen areas in the new wing are adversely affected including Accident and Emergency (Casualty) Resuscitation Room: this is the area where critically ill patients are stabilized. Central Sterile Services department (CSSD), this is the area where instruments are sterilized; Phlebotomy, this is where blood samples are drawn; all Operating theatres; Pharmacy; Intensive Care Unit; High Dependency Unit; General Surgery; Ward 10A, Orthopaedic male and female; Eye Ear Nose and Throat clinic.

This situation has been going on for weeks and not one word of commendation to the staff from the Minister, Board of Directors or management. If, however, workers decide that enough is enough, one is sure to hear the toxic tongues of those mentioned blasting them for not caring. This situation with the air condition units is symptomatic of the dysfunctional operations endemic at the RHA’s.

Are there preventative maintenance schedules in place? Are they known and available to staff? Are they being implemented? Are there adequate stocks of critical spares on site? Does management ever do internal audits on their procedures and policies and evaluate their availability and compliance?

Instead of ensuring these questions are answered positively, the Minister is constantly seeking photo-ops and sound bites and seeking to come across as the defender of patient rights at the expense of the hard working health care professionals and nursing personnel in particular.

Can anyone fathom the audacity of the Minister to openly admit that gang members run rampant in Mount Hope, nurses being assaulted on the job at POSGH but that nursing personnel must stand firm and continue to provide patient care?  The Minister seems oblivious to the fact that he is confirming the total breakdown of security measures at all the RHA’s and that he, the respective Boards of Directors and management are culpable.

To add insult to injury the Minister has the gall to ascribe the current turmoil in health to the fact that unions are organizing health workers. What utter rubbish. Yes!! The NHWU is organizing health workers throughout the country but that has nothing to do with workers’ demands for adequate safety and a comfortable working environment.

The NHWU invites the Minister of Health to leave the comfort of the television studios and do a walk through the new wing at SFGH starting at 12.00 noon.

CWU: TATT SELLOUT

posted 30 Mar 2015, 22:28 by Gerry Kangalee

In a statement published on March 27th 2015, the Communication Workers Union accused the Telecommunication Authority of selling out the national interest with relation to their position on the proposed merger of the Cable and Wireless and Columbus Communication.


The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) wishes to express its anger and consternation with a recent Media Release from the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) which states that TATT has given approval for the Billion dollar merger between Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) and Columbus Communications, the parent Company of local Cable T.V. provider FLOW.

The Communication Workers’ Union is of the view that those entrusted with the authority to manage our resources and ensure that the interest of the Nationals of our Country are secured and protected have failed us miserably.

Firstly, how could this initial transaction have materialized without the knowledge of TATT, National Enterprises Limited (NEL) and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago? It appears that they all fell asleep on the job.

Secondly, how could TATT approve such a transaction without a proper examination of all the issues surrounding this transaction based on the existing shareholding relationship between Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) and CWC and the negative implications for this transaction as it relates to the future operations of TSTT?

Thirdly, how could TATT give approval for the third mobile license to FLOW whilst it was involved in a deal to be acquired by Cable and Wireless Communications? Is this an attempt to facilitate the decimation of TSTT?

In the circumstances, TATT by this recent decision to approve the Columbus Communications (Flow)/Cable and Wireless Communications application for change of control and the resultant merger has literally created the environment to allow unfair competition in our Telecom Sector by allowing two (2) foreign providers to merge whilst one of them (CWC) was an active partner with another provider (TSTT).

Additionally, we are yet to be informed of the Government’s position on this development which became public on or around October 2014. Further, we are yet to be advised of what is the position of NEL and its shareholders on this said matter in light of a purported agreement made between NEL and CWC/ Cable & Wireless West Indies (CWWI), which is contained in a letter dated March 18, 2005.

The CWU questions whether this agreement was sanctioned by the Shareholders of NEL and did it have the support of the Government?

This development, which now has the full support of TATT should be of major concern for all Nationals of Trinidad and Tobago, as it is a move to Re-colonialize our entire Telecom Sector which would facilitate a repatriation of our financial resources by the Colonial Plunderers, Cable and Wireless and its foreign partner Columbus Communications. Additionally, decisions on the future of our National Assets are being made without any communication to us as shareholders and nationals, who are in fact the real owners of these National Assets.

As such, the Communication Workers’ Union is calling on all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to rally around our call for the full local ownership of TSTT and a cancellation of the contaminated bidding process for the third mobile license which has been undermined by the existing relationship between CWC and Columbus Communications.

Further, the CWU calls on the shareholders of NEL to demand a Special General Meeting of its shareholders to get clarity on who made the decision relative to the sale of CWC 49% stake in TSTT and to discuss the implications of the merged operations between CWC and Columbus Communications as it relates to the investment opportunities for NEL and the shareholding structure of TSTT. Additionally the Government must clearly state what its position on this instant matter is and what its vision is for the Telecommunications Sector and what role would be played by TSTT, a Company in which it now has majority ownership.

The CWU as a responsible progressive working-class institution stands in readiness to do all that is necessary to protect our national interest and ensure the economic survival and progressive development of TSTT.

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