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posted 20 Nov 2014, 13:56 by Gerry Kangalee
The National Workers Union issued the following media release on 2014/11/20:



The National Workers Union (NWU) views with disgust, but not with surprise, the move by the management of state enterprise, National Petroleum, to appeal the judgement of the Industrial Court and the consequent stay of execution of the court order in the matter of the re-instatement of the sixty eight workers, including branch officers and shop stewards of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union, who were dismissed in the October 2013 massacre.


The employers, led by the state which itself is a major employer, have adopted over the last few years what can be called the Deep Pockets theory. They have launched an attack on the very heart of the trade union movement: on the workplace.


During the period of the Manning Administration, workers were fired at WASA and the consultant hired by that statutory authority stated that the government had deep pockets. The government does not mind losing wrongful action cases in the Industrial Court, taxpayers stand the bounce anyway.


They reason that it would take between one to two years for some of these issues to be resolved in the Industrial Court and in the meantime, they would have cleared out union officers, shop stewards and militants from the workplace and shift decisively the balance of power on the shop floor in their favour.


The idea is to intimidate and cow the workers who have not been dismissed into going into their shells over the medium term and to destroy the culture and tradition of collective action and solidarity that would have been built up in unionised workplaces over time.


At the same time, workers who have been dismissed for any lengthy period of time are driven from pillar to post trying to meet their commitments to banks, mortgage companies and landlords, trying to keep food on their families’ tables, trying to deal with the inevitable fallout in relationships that are bound to follow because of their change of circumstance.


It is clear that in their effort to implement the neo-liberal agenda which is based on wholesale transfer of income from the pockets of working people into the pockets of the employers, corrupt state officials, parasitic merchants, politically-connected contractors and banksters, the trade union movement has to be weakened and undermined.

The task of leading that charge has been shouldered by the State, regardless of which party is in power. The unions that have been in the firing line are the unions that occupy strategic positions in the economy: the OWTU, CWU, PSA and TIWU. The focus of the state and the employers is to weaken and undermine these unions.


We recall the injunction on PTSC workers and on Petrotrin workers; the attempt to decertify Transport and Industrial Workers Union and Communication Workers Union; the dismissal of fourteen drivers at PTSC the growing horror of contract labour in the public service which according to the last IMF article IV consultation report published last September increased: Temporary staff…from 1,920 in 2005 to 12,636 in 2011, while new permanent appointments declined from 916 to 628.”


The Regional Health Authorities have thousands of workers on short term contracts in a situation where there is no recognised majority union. The brutal firing of all the branch representatives of the OWTU in the wake of the strike at TCL two years ago is another example of the co-ordinated attack on the trade union movement as was the  attempt to decertify the Steel Workers Union for taking illegal industrial action when, in fact, Arcelor Mittal had locked out the workers who objected to unilateral variation in their contract of work; as is the dismissal of a branch officer of the CWU at Hilton Hotel and the branch president of the Trinmar branch of OWTU.


Of course this approach by the employers, led by the State, goes hand in hand with the refusal to amend the labour laws which are heavily biased against workers and, in particular, to clean up the disgraceful state of affairs at the Recognition Board where workers applications for recognition take years to be determined and now there has not been a Recognition Board in place for months and months.


Comrade Christopher Henry, President of the Steel Workers Union, said it well: They are continually testing the system; using their deep pockets to frustrate theprocess, while the unions continued fight is against terminations of workerswithout cause, layoffs every Monday morning at their own whims and fancies.”


The National Workers Union calls upon all working people, unionised or not, to recognise what is happening. Unionised workers must put aside partisan political allegiances and defend their interests as working people with all the tools at their disposal through mass solidarity and collective action and not adopt the attitude that they will get “justice” at the Industrial Court. Even if the Court rules in favour of the workers, often the damage is already done and the union significantly weakened.


Non-unionised workers must organise themselves and join or form unions that are going to seek their interest in this ongoing battle with employers and the capitalists.


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