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posted 15 Nov 2010, 05:16 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Nov 2010, 05:23 ]

12th November 2010







The General Council of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non Governmental Organisations at its meeting on Thursday November 11th unanimously agreed to issue a statement strongly condemning the recent dismal of journalist Fazeer Mohammed on the grounds purported by the management of the Caribbean New Media Group and supported by the government.

 FITUN has always expressed the view, consistent with our position of struggling for social justice and equity that, in times of economic difficulty and hardship, workers should not be made to bear the burden of adjustment. We therefore reject the so-called decision by the CNMG management to pursue an approach that forces for a third time in a decade, media workers at this and its predecessor companies, being forced to take the full burden of an economic situation which is not of their doing. For, if Mr. Mohammed is not the only one targeted in this so-called cost cutting, the question must be asked - how many more workers are to be sent home?

 We further challenge how Mr. Ken Ali as an “interim CEO” came to be the initiator of the so-called “cost cutting” and “restructuring” exercises and query the basis for his decisions. We are not aware that there is a new Board at CNMG or that a new strategic direction/plan has been developed. Certainly, an “interim CEO” ought not to be the one with the power to implement such plans. The lack of transparency and proper process that this suggests opens the government to the charge of political victimization.

 The Trade Union Movement has maintained that an attack on a worker anywhere is an attack on workers everywhere. In FITUN’s view the dismissal of Fazeer Mohammed violated the basic tenets of good industrial relations practice. This event is therefore being taken very seriously. The advent of contract work has encouraged employers to undermine the due process for the dismissal of workers in Trinidad and Tobago. Indeed it was the view of the previous administration that contract work was the foundation upon which competitiveness would be based and that workers were always dispensable. This current action at the Government owned station suggests that the current administration is of the same view.

 It is also apparent to the Federation that, contrary to denials by the interim CEO of CNMG, the dismissal raises the issues of fundamental rights of freedom of religion and of the press.  The dismissal of any worker due to discrimination of any kind is a serious matter and must be condemned.  Moreover, the signal that has been sent is that this was an attempt to muzzle the independence of the media. These issues cannot be ignored and the government must respond and do so in a manner which leaves no doubt in the minds of our journalists that the independence of the media is not under attack and that the right of citizens to their religious beliefs is not and will not be an issue with respect to equality of opportunity. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why citizens overwhelmingly voted out the PNM in May. The People’s Partnership must live up to the ideals which it espoused and for which the citizens chose them to be the government.

 FITUN calls on the Prime Minister to address this matter publicly and in the shortest possible time. This issue is fraught with the attitudes and elements of past administrations and the current Government must dispel any fears that there is an attempt to take the country back down that road. 

 FITUN further calls for a proper process of consultation re: the role of CNMG in the development of Trinidad and Tobago. We see CNMG as the state owned media playing a central role in the development of our creative industries – film, music, theatre, the visual arts, dance – by way of providing the medium through which local content can be realised. We need to seize this moment and redress not only the dismissal of Mr. Mohammed, but address the direction of CNMG.

Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs

Carlton Gibson

Vice President

Industrial Relations