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posted 29 Aug 2015, 22:12 by Gerry Kangalee
On August 28, 2015 the Communication Workers Union (CWU) issued the following statement:

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!