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posted 17 Oct 2012, 10:43 by Gerry Kangalee



16 OCTOBER, 2012

Disappointing statements by Minister of Labour

The Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) is very disappointed in statements made by the Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development during the Budget Debate on October 10, 2012 when he is reported as stating that the ‘TCL Strike was an error’. We wish to remind the Minister that the TCL negotiation is still before the Industrial Court, and it is still far from completion.
We therefore find the Minister’s statement to be biased, extremely discourteous and prejudicial to the matter and send the strong signal as to where his heart truly is. Bearing in mind that several of our Unions have matters at the Ministry of Labour we now find ourselves in a precarious position where we no longer feel that these matters can be impartially conciliated. We recognize that the Minister‘s position is identical to those of the Employers’ organizations and therefore brings his role as an impartial conciliator sharply into question.

We also condemn his attack on one of our Leaders. As a labour movement we will fiercely, fearlessly and relentlessly defend the right to Strike which lies at the heart of a worker’s right to withhold his or her labour to further his or her interest. The right and decision to take legal strike action is determined by the workers, it is not for any Minister of Labour to make any determination on the exercise of that right.

The Joint Trade Union Movement has always supported the actions taken by the TCL Workers and considers the Strike Action a success as those workers have shown great courage and willingness to make the necessary sacrifice not just in their own interest but in the interest of the entire working class.

However we find it more than passing strange that the Minister made no mention to TCL Management’s approach. He made no mention about their use of Trinidad and Tobago police force against their employees, their inability to settle the negotiations before reaching to this stage, their utter disrespect to him, the Minister as Chief Conciliator at the Ministry of Labour.
Further the Minister did not address the actions taken by this employer to engage in Union Bursting by offering individual contracts, the threats and victimization of workers, and their display of contempt of court as they continue action long after the strike is over with 55 workers still being locked out. There has been a deafening silence by the Minister of Labour on these extreme anti-worker actions taken by TCL Management.

We also take great umbrage to the statement “Let me advise that trade unions and their leadership must begin to better articulate the interest of their members, their workers and that of the society in which we live”. We wish to remind the Minister that the Trade Union Movement has always clearly articulated the interest of our members, workers and the society. In fact we wish to further remind the Minister that such articulation can be found in the Workers’ Agenda, which has articulated positions and recommendations not only in the interest of our members and workers generally, but the entire society which included farmers, youth, women, persons with disabilities and of course a vision for a new system of governance through constitutional reform and local government reform.

The Joint Trade Union Movement

Reginald Critchlow, General Secretary, Trinidad and Tobago Postal Workers Union

Lex Lovell, President, Steel Workers Union of Trinidad and Tobago

Judy Charles, General Secretary, transport and Industrial Workers Union

Michael Prentice, Amalgamated Workers Union

Ainsley Matthews, President, Contractors and General Workers Union

Edison Monro, President, Estate Police Association

Joseph Remy, President, Communications Workers Union

Krishna Deonarine, President, Government Industrial and General Workers Union

Roustan Job, President, Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association

Vincent Cabrera, President, Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union,

Shiraz Khan, President, Trinidad Unified Farmers Association

Ancel Roget, President General, Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union

Rosana Robinson, Public Service Association