The state of emergency (SoE) has come to an end: not with a bang but with a whimper.
The National Workers’ Union (NWU), not only condemned the declaration of the emergency from the beginning, but we informed the nation in an article on our website one month before the declaration, that the government was planning to invoke a SoE.
The National Workers’ Union, like the rest of the labour movement, understood, despite the protestations to the contrary of the government, that the late unlamented SoE was not invoked to prevent an un-named disaster or to fight crime.
We knew that the emergency was invoked to derail and obstruct the momentum of the labour movement’s campaign against the wage suppression policy of the government.
This policy gave rise to the Labour Day Accord which committed the joint trade union movement to joint workplace meetings and mobilization towards achieving numerous workplace shut downs; a series of protest demonstrations involving workers from all sectors with outstanding wage negotiations across Trinidad and Tobago; these series of joint actions to culminate in a General Strike on a date to be announced.
The National Workers’ Union believes that the success or failure of the SoE, therefore, does not depend on how many drugs or weapons have been located or how many detainees have been placed or not placed on spurious charges.
The success or failure of the SoE depends on whether it has succeeded or failed in its attempt to interrupt the forward march of the labour movement as it seeks to beat off the attacks by the state on the standard of living of the working class through its policy of wage suppression.
Whether the SoE succeeds or fails in its objective of disarming the trade union movement will become clear in the next few weeks as the trade union movement resumes its campaign to defend, protect and advance the interests of working people. This campaign kicks off on Friday 9th December with a demonstration through the streets of Port of Spain.
The government hoped that many unions would have been intimidated enough during the period of the emergency to bow to the pressure and followed the example of Watson Duke. This has not happened.
The government hoped that if sufficient unions had signed for the 5%, those contracts that ended up in the Industrial court for arbitration would be awarded 5%; given the fact that the Court is guided by industrial relations norms.
The National Workers’ Union reminds the national community that even the repressive Industrial Relations Act recognises the right to strike over breakdown of negotiations of organised workers not employed in so-called essential services.
The National Workers’ Union, further, reminds the national community that the struggle of working people to defend their standard of living does not come to an end because a negotiation is referred to the Industrial Court.
The National Workers’ Union puts the national community on notice that, in the days ahead, working people, under the leadership of the joint trade union movement, will employ every means at their disposal to defend their standard of living against the attempts of the government to make workers bear the burden of the capitalist economic crisis.