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posted 21 Jan 2016, 05:05 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 21 Jan 2016, 05:23 ]
In a paid advetisment published in all the daily newspapers headlined Communicating the Truth : Editorial Mischief Secretary General of the Communication Workers Union, Joseph Remy, stated:

Self-proclaimed Agent of the Capitalist Agenda in the person of Business Guardian Editor, Anthony Wilson,

Anthony Wilson: anti-worker agenda
has once again used his position in the media to promote his unpatriotic, anti worker-agenda. In the BG of January 14, 2016, he asks the Question “Should Government privatize T&T’s Crown-Jewel Companies?”

However, in a veiled attempt to promote the article and portray a negative image of three leading progressive Labour Leaders, he has obscenely aligned their photos with that of one of the foremost proponent of privatization, Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, whose full scale capitalist reform programs proved to be an abysmal failure, as they led to mass unemployment and reduced the power of Trade Unions in England.

Additionally, he has listed the Crown Jewels as TSTT, Petrotrin, FCB, NP, NGC, and Phoenix Park Gas Processors and has also indicated that privatization is a policy choice that the Government should not ignore. Ironically all these entities are affiliated in some manner with the labour leaders highlighted in the pictures.

Poor Anthony, in his quest to please his masters at the ANSA Mc Al Group, completely missed the boat by premising his argument on the opening paragraph which stated:”One of the common prescriptions for countries that find themselves in balance of payments and/or fiscal difficulties is for those countries to sell or divest state assets in order to raise revenue to close the gap between what governments spend and what they earn”. Anthony went on to use the example of the Iron Lady, Mrs. Thatcher’s sale of all Britain’s Crown Jewels to her colonial plunderers whose sole intent was maximization of profits for a few at the expense of many. To put it in context, she emboldened the “GREED IS GOOD” mantra that has seen the world perennially spin out of control and veer away from any sort of moral compass.

Anthony got it all wrong as TSTT, since its inception in 1991 when TELCO and TEXTEL merged operations, has never gone to the State for funding. By the structure of the Shareholders Agreement with the then NAR Government and Cable and Wireless, TSTT’s operations were severed from Government funding with 51% of the Company belonging to the state and 49% belonging to Cable and Wireless. 

The company has been on its own raising its own capital for developmental projects and funding its operations from its revenues gained from the sale of its services. In addition, the Governments 51% shareholding was vested in the National Enterprise Limited, NEL which was placed on the Stock Market with ordinary citizens and local business owning a stake in NEL, thereby, indirectly owning a stake in TSTT. So there is no way the sale of the Government’s51% stake in TSTT would reduce the gap between what government spend and what they earn. In contrast, it would widen the gap since the Government would no longer earn dividends from NEL via profits from TSTT and the other profit making, dividend earning state entities such as Petrotrin and NGC for example.

The question that was not asked however is what would motivate a Government to sell off their stake in these entities, and, could the same motivation be achieved if the entities remained owned by the public sector. Wilson suggests that the Government should privatize in an effort to acquire much needed cash; but won’t properly managed critical Government owned entities be capable of yielding healthy profits? Is there evidence to suggest that privatization translates into improved efficiency? Additionally, who would look after the public interest if our Crown Jewels are privatized? Remember that TSTT has a critical role to play in the National Security architecture of the country; do we really want to place such a critical state service into private hands?

What privatization does is remove the citizens as shareholders and replace them with another set of shareholders who would be seeking their own business interests as against the public interest. Remember that “Greed is Good” is their mantra. In this debate it must be stated that managerial accountability to the public interest is what counts most, and not the form of ownership. The simple transfer of ownership from public to private hands will not guarantee reduced costs or the enhancement of quality of services. Any decision to privatize must take into account the state of the economy and the purpose to be served by privatization. Additionally, the replacement of public ownership with privatization will not by itself serve the public good. Wilson’s position in this instance however suggests that in an effort to address our economical challenges which are happening globally, our Government should embrace the idea of privatization.

What he has failed to do however is to outline the status of the Crown Jewels identified and determine what the best possible options are for the progressive development and economic survival of the said entities.  If however, his views resonate with those in authority, the progressive Trade Union movement would have no other option but to mobilize the mass movement to do whatever is necessary to protect our Crown Jewels in the National interest. The capitalist agenda is once again on the table so it is time for Working Class Institutions to unite and begin the conversation to promote the implementation of the Workers Agenda.

It is ironic that Wilson has targeted three Progressive Trade Unions for the launch of his bosses Capitalist Agenda, the OWTU, the BIGWU and the CWU. This is a clear frontal attack on the Progressive Trade Union Movement as there is the view in those circles that these Unions are strong and Independent and would stand as vanguards against exploitation and social and financial injustice. Wilson went on to state that these Trade Unions would launch the most vigorous defense possible to protect the highly paid, unionized jobs at Petrotrin, NP, TSTT and First Citizens. While he is patently wrong in the assertion that these workers are highly paid, he was very right to state that we will launch a vigorous defense of these jobs, since we are clear in our position that workers who turn the wheels of the production process must be adequately compensated for their efforts. I hope that Anthony would take a look at Executive Pay in the Private Sector that he belongs to and make the necessary comparisons in his next article.

What was most reprehensible however, was the statement that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet may have to make a decision between the lesser of two evils, “(1) enrage the entire working population- which comprises all the country’s voters – by cutting back on spending enough to achieve the 2016 budget commitment of generating a fiscal deficit of $2.8B or 1.7 per cent of GDP; or (2) enrage the small segment of the working population, who may be directly affec

ted by the management changes that may be inevitable IF – and it is a big if – the Government decides to hand over control of the state sector entirely to private ownership”. This is a classic example of pitting one sector of the working population against another. What Anthony is attempting to do here is create a sub- class within the working class by the old divide and rule tactic.

We unconditionally reject and condemn Anthony’s argument and we declare him a “Persona Non Grata” for the Progressive Trade Union Movement, in particular, the Communication Workers’ Union. He has shown his Capitalist Fangs and has prostituted himself on the altar of his bosses at ANSA MC AL.

As a Progressive Working Class Institution, the  Communication Workers’ Union(CWU), has always stated that it is time for those who labour to hold the reins of power, as those whose hands we chose over and over,  to entrust our political destiny are facilitators of their own class interest. In that regard the CWU stands in readiness to do the political work to facilitate the type of vehicle which would represent the interest of those who do not count in society. For this the C.W.U. Dares to Struggle!