The Communication Workers Union (CWU) issued the following media statement dated September 29th.
The Communication Worker's Union, CWU, would like to publicly chastise the West Indies Cricket Board, WICB, for deliberately creating the current chaotic and insular state of Cricket in the Region. It is quite disgusting and vexatious to witness this current debacle with respect to the Suspension of the Coach of the Senior West Indies Cricket Team, Phil Simmons for what is alleged to be his open and frank articulation on the flawed and discriminatory process used for selecting the Best Cricket Team to represent the region. What is even more disturbing is the appointment of Selector, Eldine Baptiste to replace Mr. Simmons immediately after he was served with his suspension notice.
The CWU has taken note of the facts as outlined by Phil Simmons which reveals that the initiative was taken by himself and the Chief Selector, Clive Lloyd to engage in rapprochement efforts with discarded Cricketers, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, with the aim of having them back into the fold of the West Indies Team. It was also revealed that this initiative also found favour with the current Captain, Jason Holder and as such, there was an optimistic expectation that these world class players would have been included in the Team for the upcoming Tour to Sri Lanka due to the strong and realistic support by the Coach, the Chief Selector and the Captain. What transpired subsequently indicates that the other three (3) selectors, Messer's Courtney Walsh, Courtney Brown and Eldine Baptiste, voted against the inclusion of these players based on the fact that although the Captain is involved in the selection process, he does not have voting powers. Phil Simmons, quite bravely spoke out against what he views as external interference in the selection process and that led to his suspension.
The CWU views this suspension as draconian and reeks of parochialism and insularity. It is quite clear that Messer's Bravo and Pollard are being victimised for standing up for their rights as employees of the Board during the ill fated tour of India. It is apparent that the President of the Board has taken offence to the fact that these players had the testicular fortitude to challenge the Board for attempting to enforce inferior terms and conditions of employment on the players, terms and conditions that are way below the accepted international benchmark for such players. This has now resulted in those players apparently being placed on Mr. Cameron's Black list and he has now used his influence on the other selectors to discriminate against Messer's Bravo and Simmons.
What has made this development even more frightening is the immediate appointment of Eldine Baptiste to serve as Coach of the Team for the Sri Lanka Tour. This is the same Eldine Baptiste who voted against Phil Simmons, the Chief Selector and the Captain; this is the same Eldine Baptiste who recently applied for the Job of Coach of the West Indies Senior Team for which Phil Simmons was successful. Everything surrounding this issue smells foul and needs public condemnation.
The CWU has always championed the cause of West Indies Cricket and has supported the unifying effect that it has on the Caribbean Region. Together with the Co-operative Credit Union Movement, Cricket is the other Institution that has been the glue that has kept Caribbean People together. Over the years, despite the failure of CARICOM and other Regional Institutions, the Co-operative Credit Union Movement and West Indies Cricket have been the flag bearers for Regional Unity, in the face of petty insularity and big and small Island Politics which have plagued the deepening of true Regional Unity.
The CWU is demanding the immediate reinstatement of Phil Simmons to his rightful position of Coach of the Senior West Indies Cricket Team, and calls on Regional Leaders to immediately convene a forum with the WICB to rescue West Indies Cricket from the demise and the abyss that Messer's Cameron and his band of disingenuous administrators are taking this noble Caribbean Tradition. We are also calling on our newly elected Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, the Honourable Dr. Keith Rowley, to make an intervention into this matter since three (3) of the key players in this current debacle are Trinidad and Tobago Nationals.
We all need to stand together in defence of West Indies Cricket.
Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh
Minister of Health
Ministry of Health
63 Park Street
Port of Spain
On behalf of the membership of the National Health Workers Union (NHWU) and, by extension, on behalf of health workers throughout the country, we extend congratulations to you on your recent appointment as Minister of Health.
Health workers throughout the Regional Health Authorities look forward with great interest and concern to your government’s policy and operational approach to the public health system which has been aptly described by those who operate within it as dysfunctional.
On 2015/05/05, the NHWU wrote to the former Prime Minister, informing her about the horrendous situation existing within the public health system and recommending mechanisms which may be applied to begin to ameliorate the situation in the short term. Needless to say there was no consequent action on our letter.
In the estimation of the NHWU the dual track system of senior medical personnel operating in both the public and private health care systems must be abolished. The External Patients Programme (EPP) benefits a clique of medical doctors in the public health system that actually operates a private hospital sector funded by the state.
This situation has become so scandalously corrupt that medical capitalists have transformed public health institutions into gathering stations for those in need of medical procedures. Public health institutions are now holding bays and clearing houses for the routing of patients into the private health system and the state pays - another disgusting incident of the looting of public funds by politically connected persons.
In your party’s manifesto you promised to institute the much-touted national health insurance system by 2018. Your manifesto describes it thus: “an appropriate health insurance system, financed by the Government in partnership with the private sector, all members of the public will be able to access high quality health care at any health facility, whether public or private, regardless of their personal financial circumstances” This sounds uncomfortably like the justification put forward by the former, unlamented Minister of Health for the corrupt external patients programme. Rest assured, Mr. Minister, that health workers will keep a keen eye on your government’s approach to this National Health Insurance system.
Other corrupt practices are associated with the External Patients Programme. Sixteen private dialysis centres are being supplied with patients and being paid for by the State. It would be interesting to uncover what were the criteria used in selecting these centres and how much it actually costs the citizens of our country. Worse still: two dialysis centres are scheduled to be built at Mount Hope and San Fernando in collaboration with Comprehensive Nephrology Services Ltd and Biomedical Medical Technology Ltd. Five days before the General Election, the sod was turned for the one at Mount Hope.
The two companies over time have registered the same addresses and have a common director in David Jaikissoon. 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. The NHWU strongly recommends that the relationship between the two companies and the former Minister of Health be carefully scrutinised as should the relationship between the companies and Fresenius Medical Care Deutschland GmbH.
The public Health system suffers from tremendous shortages of staff in most areas, particularly medical areas. Mechanisms must be put in place to fill the thousands of vacancies in the public health care system. According to official statistics, in the North Central Regional Health Authority 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.
According to the World Health Organisation, the nurse to patient ratio should be one nurse to six patients. 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.”
Dr. Victor Wheeler, in moving a motion at the fifteenth sitting of the fifth session of the tenth parliament on Tuesday January 20th 2015, calling for a comprehensive review of the regional health authority system, stated: "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…”
The shortage of medical personnel is bad enough, but there are also shortages of laboratory techs, phlebotomists, radiographers, pharmacists, dietetic and nutrition personnel, health, safety and environment personnel, medical social workers and many other specialisations.
Hospitals are being built, when according to Dr. Wheeler; “we have a shortage of specialists, shortage of nurses, shortage of midwives, shortage of lab managers, shortage of staff.” The Couva Children’s Hospital is a case in point. The former Minister of Health claimed it needs 2, 500 workers. Where are these workers going to come from? Are the other medical facilities to be cannibalised to staff it when they are already woefully short of staff?
There is no medical logic that can be discerned in constructing these mega facilities without first guaranteeing their staffing needs. Of course, it is logical to commission mega projects where hundreds of millions of public funds are being spent if the objective is not to provide services but to generate wealth and capital accumulation for politically connected persons through the siphoning of public funds into private purses.
Of course, there is a major problem in the RHAs with procurement systems, serious deficits in terms of equipment, staff, medication, utensils and everyday products, maintenance of tools and equipment, theft of valuable tools and equipment.
There is another insidious form of corruption that is sapping the morale of thousands of workers in the RHAs and has a direct bearing on the backward master and servant syndrome that pervades industrial relations in the RHAs. It relates to the ridiculous job appointment system in the RHAs which has as its base what are called cabinet approved positions and board approved positions.
In a nutshell, cabinet approved positions are so-called permanent appointments and board approved positions are short term contract provisions, These short term contracts may be (in the case of Aides to Nurses) month to month contracts; for other categories there are six month contracts, one year contracts and two year contracts.
The system is so chaotic that some categories of permanent staff that are offered promotions are told that they have to resign their positions and go on short term contracts to accept the promotion. This horrendous contract system affects both workers with professional qualifications and those without. Short term contract workers obviously suffer anxiety over their job security, are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing mortgage and other loans and credit facilities. They cannot properly plan the future of their families or make significant investments.
The horrendous contract system must be done away with in the RHAs. How can workers who are not comfortable when it comes to their quality of life be expected to provide quality health care for the members of the public? This horrendous short term contract system must be abolished as a matter of priority.
Dr. Wheeler also stated: “Because many of the workers in the Regional Health Authority system were on contract, the environment for victimization flourished… 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 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...”
In such an environment nepotism reigns unchecked; unqualified personnel are put in positions of responsibility which they cannot handle, promotions are denied to deserving workers because they are not management’s favourites, victimisation flourishes and the provision of health care deteriorates with each passing day.
Reports have been made to the NHWU that during the last nine days before elections mass interviews were being conducted and employment contracts
were being prepared at lightning speed at the South West Regional Health Authority. The Human Resources Department was virtually shut down during the period (see memo attached).
The reports also suggest that there may have been the destruction of application records and interview results. The NHWU requests that an investigation be done to ascertain the veracity of these reports. There have been long-standing accusations by workers that SWRHA engages in nepotism in their hiring practices. SWRHA’s Chief Operations Officer, Mr. Randolph Badall may be able to throw some light on the reports.
In conclusion, the NHWU reiterates its position that if the public health system is to survive and working people and the poor are to enjoy a decent, civilised standard of living and health care is not to become the preserve of the rich:
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.
Mechanisms must be put in place to fill the thousands of vacancies in the public health care system.
Nepotism in hiring practices must be stamped out.
If these simple measures are put in place, we would have made a good start in reforming the public health care system, a reformation that is sorely needed.
In the service of the working class
The Communication Workers' Union (CWU) would like to give clarification to its absence from the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the JTUM, the PNM and the ILP.
The CWU wishes to remind the nation that on Friday 23rd September 2009, late in the evening, on the eve of the celebration of Republic Day, the CWU was issued with a notice that an application was made to the Industrial Court to have the Union DECERTIFIED as the Recognized Majority Union for both the Senior and Junior Staff Bargaining Units at the Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago, TSTT.
This action was publicly supported by the Minister of Labour in the then PNM Administration, Mr. Rennie Dumas. This application was made on the heels of TSTT taking action against seventy-five (75) Employees of the Company who, in the face of obscene disrespect by a disrespectful Foreign Chief Executive Officer at that time, Mexican, Roberto Peon, took legitimate action in furtherance of a Dispute over the Company's blatant refusal to settle their long outstanding Wage Negotiations.
Up to this time, the Union still has an outstanding Dispute at the Industrial Court with respect to sixty-eight (68) of those Workers who were ILLEGALLY SUSPENDED and whose illegal suspension was not lifted by the then Government nor the TSTT Management. This DECERTIFICATION effort was staved off by the collective efforts of the Joint Trade Union Movement in a massive Protest Action that eventually saw the Company and the then PNM Government relent under the strength of a United Labour Movement. Up to this day, the CWU has not received an apology or have even been shown any kind of remorse by the PNM who formed the Government of the day for what can only be described as the most heinous attack against a Trade Union.
While we have successfully and progressively soldiered on, we are ever mindful of the events of September 2009. Subsequent to that, the CWU made overtures to the Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley in an effort to garner support for our battle at TSTT against a corrupt Board, Management and Foreign Partner, Cable and Wireless, all in an effort to ensure the survival of our prized national asset TSTT.
To date our efforts were never even acknowledged. As a progressive and Independent Working Class Institution, we are wary of those who befriend the Labour Movement in order to hold the reins of power. We are reminded of the events of 2010 wherein progressive elements of the Labour Movement extended support for the Movement for Social Justice (M.S.J) as a signatory to the Fyzabad Accord which gave birth to the People's Partnership. This in effect demonstrated to many of our citizens, a show of support for the People's Partnership by the Labour Movement. What transpired since is well known to all.
We have seen the blatant betrayal of the Labour Movement by "This Most Corrupt People's Partnership Government, led by Kamla Persad Bissessar". We have even seen an attempt to fundamentally alter the Employer/Employee Relationship and by extension the Industrial Relations Environment through the ill-timed and ill conceived nefarious Industrial Relations Amendment Bill 2015, ironically piloted by a former Labour Stalwart, Errol McLeod, in his capacity as Labour Minister. All these were direct attacks against the Trade Union Movement.
With respect to the ILP, any association with that Party raises the question of Integrity and Credibility based on numerous local, regional and international allegations of Corruption surrounding the leadership of this party, headed by the colorful Austin Jack Warner.
As a Working Class Movement we have long been singing the refrain "I would want to be in that number when those who labour hold the reins of Power". In that regard the CWU is of the view that affiliation and association with these Traditional Political Parties will not promote that objective.
What we have seen presented in the MOU and respective Manifestos of those Parties do not give any comfort to the CWU and the Trade Union Movement. What we have seen reflected in the MOU and those Manifestos are surface measures that do not go deep to the root of the perennial problems that confront the Working Class in our Country, particularly in these challenging and frightening economic times.
There are no definitive and convincing policy proposals that suggest that the relationship with Labour and the policies that impact on the lives of the Working Class and ordinary citizens would be any different to what has been existing over the years. As a matter of fact, it seems that it would be worse off given what has been articulated in those Manifestos.
We have even seen the resurfacing of the dreaded Revenue Authority, which when introduced by the then PNM Government, resulted in the arrest of Comrade David Abdulah in a manner that sent frightening signals of Fascism to Trade Union Leaders. As such, as a Progressive Working Class Institution, we wish to state that it is imperative for us all to understand that the historical mission of the Working Class, which was started by the Butlerites, is yet to be completed.
So as one of the Trade Unions which is rich in the history of the Butlerite Movement, the CWU must be part of that mission as we seek control of our own political and economic destiny in Trinidad and Tobago. In the circumstances the CWU wishes to maintain its independence as an organization and as such, we feel emboldened in our position to absent ourselves from these recent developments. We however remain a part of the Joint Trade Union Movement at this time as we maintain our commitment for GENUINE LABOUR UNITY in Trinidad and Tobago; but we wish to state that we will at no time COMPROMISE OUR INDEPENDENCE AS A PROGRESSIVE WORKING CLASS INSTITUTION. We however remain committed to the struggle for those who labour to hold the reins of power. For that, We Dare to Struggle!
The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) wrote the following letter to the Minister of Finance, Larry Howai:
Senator, the Honourable Larry Howai
Minister of Finance and the Economy
Eric Williams Finance Building
Port of Spain
The National Health Workers’ Union (NHWU) is one of the three (3) trade unions that are representing monthly paid health workers employed by the five (5) Regional Health Authorities (RHA’s). Only two of the three can obtain Recognised Majority Union status which would allow for wage and all other negotiations and the NHWU is the only one organizing across all categories of monthly-paid staff. We now have hundreds of RHA employees in our membership.
The NHWU has noted with keen interest statements attributed to you via various media houses in relation to salary adjustments for those workers and we wish to make the following observations/comments.
1) You are cited as saying that the monthly rated staff will receive their salary increases by September 2015 and resulting retroactive payments by November 2015. We have consulted with our membership and they find this to be totally unacceptable.
The period being addressed is 1st January 2011 to 31st December 2013. This means that the last period for which these workers would have had a salar
y increase would be January 1st 2010. These workers have been subsisting on 2010 salaries for more than five years and most importantly they have not had any increases for the entire life of the current administration. This is quite contrary to the boasts of you and your Cabinet colleagues. This, the NHWU, holds will be a grave indictment on you and your administration should you demit office without addressing the just entitlements of these workers who are conveniently described as being “ESSENTIAL”, but not treated as being essential.
2) Your suggested dates pose another problem. The upcoming elections and the inherent uncertainties obviously present some concerns. More importantly, the NHWU is concerned about strength of commitments made when they are not fulfilled within the fiscal year in which they are made. Will the new administration (regardless of party) be bound to adhere to them in the formulation of its budgetary allocations? Budgets have to be approved by Parliament; will the new parliamentarians be bound by your commitments? Our concerns are heightened when you are cited in the Daily Express dated 2015/08/07 thus: ‘Howai said in some cases, an appropriation for the funding would have to be made “after parliament is reconvened” (after the general election).’
Our members are very concerned that because there is no recognized majority union in the RHAs and consequently no collective agreement that can legally bind the government to fulfilling that which it has promised, and because of government’s track record of not fulfilling its promises to the labour movement, this latest “promise” is being used to lull them into a mood of complacency. Rest assured that this will not happen and our members are quite prepared to do all that is necessary to defend and advance their quest for equity and justice and against discrimination.
3) The NHWU has seen documents provided by very reliable sources which indicate that at least some senior management personnel have received retroactive pay and salary increases. This we find to be crass and a slap in the face of the overworked and underpaid non-managerial monthly-paid staff that management will gorge themselves full and leave their charges in the wilderness. This is particularly galling seeing negotiations for public officers were concluded in March. There is absolutely no excuse for not being able to pay the workers in a timely fashion.
some of them who would have worked there from their inception and have now retired are in receipt of pensions ranging between $800.00-1000.00 per month? Some will get some temporary relief from these payments; do you think it is fair that they should line up and wait
behind the senior managers for payment?
5) The NHWU has been advised by key personnel in the Finance and Payroll departments that both the implementation of the new rates and the computation of back pay can be processed by August 31st. We have been advised that all that is required is the instruction and release of monies.
You would no doubt be aware that these workers who have been extremely patient over the last five (5) years have now become quite restive. The NHWU is very concerned that their frustrations will overflow into areas that will benefit no one. We urge that you and your Cabinet colleagues urgently review you position and have the increases effected by this month’s end.
The NHWU is willing, able and prepared to assist in an amicable resolution to these issues.
Sylvan Wilson for
RHA WORKERS MUST BEWARE OF POLITICAL GAMES
Monthly paid employees of the Regional Health Authorities have been operating under growing pressure, not having enjoyed a wage increase since 2010. These workers are not represented by a recognised majority union and, therefore, do not have a collective agreement with their employers.
Over the years the practice has been that the Regional Health Authorities would apply whatever percentage increase has been negotiated between the Chief Personnel Officer and the union representing public servants. RHA employees are not public servants and are not covered by the term and conditions enjoyed by public servants. While the RHAs have applied the wage increases, they are not legally obligated to do so.
There have been many rumours that the RHAs are reluctant to apply the 14% increase recently negotiated on behalf of public servants and this naturally has caused great unease among RHA employees. More than four months have gone by yet the RHAs have not said if or when the salary increase will be paid.
The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) has learned that the North Central Regional Health Authority and the Eastern Regional Health Authority have issued memoranda to their respective staffs claiming to have begun preparatory work to facilitate the implementation of the increase.
We, therefore, fully expect those RHAs to institute the increase expeditiously and further call upon the South West Regional Health Authority, the Tobago Health Authority and the North West Regional Health Authority to announce that they are following suit. We, further, expect all the RHAs to announce the dates of payment of the increase.
The NHWU will tolerate no delaying tactics on the part of the RHAs and will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that employees of the RHAs are treated in a just and fair manner.
The National Health Workers Union cautions RHA employees not to be suckered into becoming pawns in a cynical political game which is scheduled to take place on Monday 13th July under the pretext of calling upon the Minister of Health to sign some bogus agreement to pay the salary increase.
Let us be clear: no collective agreement has been negotiated on behalf of the monthly paid employees of any of the RHAs. The Minister of Health, therefore, cannot sign a non-existent agreement.
Even if, the monthly paid workers of the RHAs were the beneficiaries of a collective agreement negotiated on their behalf by a recognised majority union, the Minister of Health would not be authorised to sign that collective agreement. He has no standing in the matter. The representatives of the individual RHAs would be the correct persons to sign.
The NHWU, again, warns health workers to be wary of the game scheduled to be played out on Monday July 13th which is designed to fool them and members of the public into believing that their wage increase is dependent on a script prepared by one politician seeking to return to office and another seeking to join the ranks of political hustlers whose only concern is to eat a food at the expense of public funds. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Sylvan Wilson, Executive Officer National Workers Union 758 8933
1. Haig Community United also called the Guave Road Farmers Association is an NGO formed by the Farmers and was represented by Mr Colvin Blaize and Mr Farai Hove Masaisai of Hove & Associates, Attorneys-at-Law. The CDA was represented by Douglas Mendes SC.
2. The matter was the hearing of an Injunction brought by the Farmers to restrain the Chaguaramas Development Company from destroying crops and property belonging to the Farmers, arresting and assaulting the Farmers and carrying out Development Works on lands in and around Guave Road which the farmers have been working for more than sixty years. The issue of stopping the on going stripping of the Guave Road lands of its valuable top soil and transporting it to areas outside of Chaguaramas in what clearly is a commercial operation was also raised but was not entertained by the Judge.
3. The Injunction was an interim measure pending the hearing of the substantive action in which the Farmers are claiming possessory title to the land by way of adverse possession. Their claim is they have been in possession and control of the lands since the 1950s and in support of this, have produced aerial photography and expert professional evidence going back to this period and submitted affidavits from several persons. They have several other affidavits from persons who were actually farming in the 1960’s and items of evidence which support their claim. Their claim for possessory title does not need all of this evidence so what they have is more than sufficient support for what they seek.
4. The CDA to date have produced no evidence in support of their claim of ownership – and indeed there is evidence to support the fact that their development of lands in Chaguaramas is not being carried out legally or by way of any due process. The farmers are also challenging the CDA’s ownership rights to the land but the Judge was not inclined to hear such during the Injunction.
5. The Court ordered that written submissions be filed with regard to the interim applications made for the injunction and the matter would be heard and a decision made on the injunction on the 29th day of July 2015.
6. A procedural point was raised by Senior Counsel Mendes who stated that the NGO did not have Locus to represent their members. According to the Honourable Justice Frank Seepersad the NGO “Haig Community United” also called the Guave Road Farmers Association was only recently formed and registered as a legal entity and could not alone represent the interest of the Farmers. He ordered that the Claim be amended and all 16 farmers be named as claimants in this matter against the CDA.
7. The Judge refused to restrain the CDA from carrying out its ongoing destruction of the land and the Attorneys for the other side refused to advise his Client to provide such an undertaking. The decision of the Court has therefore allowed an organisation that has not proved its ownership rights to the land to strip and destroy what is considered to be the best agricultural lands in the country. Despite submissions by Learned Counsel for the Farmers that the ongoing destruction of the lands in Chagaramas by the CDA would render any possible decision by the Court in Favour of the farmers useless as the destruction would be irreversible. Heedless of this the Judge adjourned the matter to the 29th day of July despite the Application for the injunction being filed on the 15th day of June 2015 and time being of the essence to prevent the irreversible destruction of the land and the ongoing suffering and loss of the farmers, their families and their communities.
8. The matter is to come up for hearing again on the 29th July and until then the CDA can continue doing what they are doing on the land and to the farmers even though it may turn out that the lands do not belong to the CDA and/or the farmers rights to the lands are upheld in a subsequent matter.
9. If that takes place the actions of the CDA and those directing its agenda will have to be considered crimes and farmers will have to be substantially compensated in several ways by the taxpaying citizens of Trinidad and Tobago – and may very well end up much better off than if they are left on the land. There will also be no one held responsible for the unnecessary expenditure of public money in compensation payments, the destruction of the best agricultural lands in the country, the crimes that will have been committed against the farmers by persons in the CDA including praedial larceny of their crops, larceny of their belongings, the loss of food to the public, untold loss and destruction to communities in the West, etc.
10. Of course despite all the aforementioned and much more, the Law and the CDA’s Lawyer will be satisfied that they have done their respective jobs well and several private sector parties will again have enriched themselves at the expense of the national interest, the Exchequer and the public patrimony.
11. The farmers are not happy with the Orders of the Court or with the procedures it is insisting should be followed. An Appeal can be launched but that will result in further time being given to the CDA to continue with its “activities” - who it should be noted, have not yet proven to the Court that it is acting legally.
12. The obvious conclusion from all the aforementioned is that the farmers are being disadvantaged in all areas and the interest of the State and its citizens are being put at risk in several respects.
13. Justice Must Not Just be Done but Must Also be Seen to Be Done.
THE FYZABAD FIASCO EXPLAINED
In that statement we said: “many trade union leaders have abandoned the first principles of trade unionism: class solidarity, mass organisation, collective action, organizational democracy and political education. Instead they have taken the road of collaboration with the employers, the capitalists and the “eat a food, skin up to the highest bidder” politicians in suppressing the aspirations and the interests of their members.
Many trade union leaders have abandoned the route of self reliance and independent organisation and have attached themselves to the gangs of confidence tricksters and political hustlers masquerading as political parties in order to advance their personal interests.”
What was the jhanjat at Fyzabad about? Was it about differences in strategy to defeat the growing curse of contract labour that is destroying the prospects of workers in the public service, the state enterprise sector, the statutory authorities sector, the health sector and increasingly in the private sector and which is being used to emasculate unions, particularly the PSA?
Was the conflict on June 19th based on differences over how to tackle the growing privatisation/divestment policy of the government which is putting public funds into private purses and reducing the workforce in the public and state enterprise sectors?
Was it about how to counter the aggression of the employers in their open attack on workers as exemplified in the TCL strike and the mass dismissal of NP workers?
The increasing decibel level in the labour movement has nothing to do with ideology or strategy! It is all about labour leaders currying favour with politicians by using the Unions and workers as collateral for bargaining in pursuit of their personal gain.
The Fyzabad fiasco was about some trade union leaders assisting the employers and the political parties in dividing the working class in exchange for a seat in the House or the Senate and for an opportunity to hobnob with those who oppress their members.
Our partisan political system is based on dividing the masses along ethnic, religious and regional lines and trade union leaders who eagerly embrace this corrupt and rotten system are conscious or unconscious agents of the employers and the government. Take note: Messrs. Lambert, Abdulah, Duke, Anisette, Indarsingh, Roget, Maharaj! Today some cling to the PNM yesterday it was UNC, but say what, yesterday was yesterday and today is today. Some ally themselves with whoever is in government, though they may have been allied with the defeated party before!
While many trade union leaders seek the holy grail of political office, the ability of the unions they lead to perform basic trade union tasks has plummeted disastrously. While they spout divisive and dangerous partisan political rhetoric, they are inefficient, pay no attention to properly training their officers, do no research and are ignorant of industrial relations laws and practices.
They have failed to train Union officers, shop stewards and labour officers to efficiently handle disputes at the various levels, have become an embarrassment, are treated with derision and have become the butt of jokes in industrial relations circles.
They love to talk about issues of which they do not have a clue, make unfulfilled promises and have become TV and radio talk show trade union leaders. They do not interact with their members, do not encourage discussion and debate, fear criticism and refuse to practise self-criticism. They have no confidence in their members, are insecure in their positions, run the unions like their personal estates, never consult the workers and lead the union from the top down. They do not encourage the practice of democracy.
The National Workers Union believes that the very survival of the trade union movement rests in the hands of the younger cohort of shop floor/workplace leaders. These shop stewards and branch officers in the day to day functioning of the unions are the more important than the trade union bureaucrats who sit in their fancy offices, drive their fancy cars and make deals with corrupt politicians and employers in order to advance their personal interests.
The workplace leaders of the unions must ask themselves the question why do we tolerate the nonsense that passes for leadership in our unions? Why do we knowingly allow our leaders to engage in practices that are inimical to workers’ interest and do not put a stop to them? Why are we content to allow leaders to operate, free of the checks and balances that exist in the constitution of most unions?
It is time to wake up. It is time that workplace union leaders assume their responsibility to their members to take charge of their unions and to ensure that they operate as they were meant to operate – as institutions designed to defend, protect and advance the interests of the working class and not as watchmen for the employers and the State
ELEVATOR WOES AT SANDO GENERAL HOSPITAL
There are four elevators located at what is commonly called the “Old Hospital” all of which have been giving problems within recent times. The NHWU has been reliably informed that the service contractor RBP Lifts is owed considerable sums of money so that necessary repairs are on hold.
One of the four lifts is dedicated to the kitchen for the movement of food and only one (1) of the remaining three is working. On Saturday 20th June, a patient in advanced labour was dropped off at the hospital, not even at the Casualty Department. A Registered Nurse and a Nursing Assistant recognized the urgency of the situation, immediately placed the patient into a wheelchair and attempted to use the lift which would have taken them closest to the Maternity ward, only to find out that it was not working.
They then had to wheel her down the entire length of the hospital to access the only functional lift. After getting to the third floor they had to wheel her back up the length of the hospital to where the Maternity ward is located. While on the way the baby was born. It is fortunate for mother and child that because of the experience and competence of the staff present this did not turn out to be a tragedy. The NHWU compliments the hospital staff for their dedication to duty, competence and compassion.
However, health care continues to be a political football whereby the government and the Minister of Health are more concerned with turning sod and building new facilities while existing ones are literally going to the dogs.
The incinerator at SFGH is also constantly mal-functioning. This is critical in the disposal of bio hazardous waste; a few months ago the entire “New Hospital” (not the Teaching Hospital) was without air conditioning for weeks including operating theatres. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. The NHWU calls on the Minister to get off the TV and do the job for which he is paid.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Sylvan Wilson, Executive Officer National Workers Union 758 8933