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CWU: WHY WE BLANKED KAMLA!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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