NATIONAL WORKERS UNION REJECTS NATUC’S PRIVATISATION POSITION
The National Workers’ Union (NWU) is implacably and irrevocably opposed to the privatisation policy of the PP government. The NWU has made our opposition clear through four media releases and two flyers distributed to the public.
Given our clear position NWU is bound to openly and unequivocally condemn the National Trade Union Centre’s (NATUC) position on privatisation as contained in its budget brief submitted to the Minister of Finance.
The NWU is not a member of NATUC but we believe it would be craven of us not to oppose policies that are clearly not in the interests of working people, from whatever source those policies originate.
The NWU has argued over and over that privatisation is part of the policy of international capital known as neo-liberalism, propagated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The policy promotes privatisation/divestment; downsizing of the public sector; private sector provision of public goods and services (private public partnership); outsourcing; wage suppression; de-regulation and an assault on workers’ rights, benefits entitlements and on their unions.
The government has made it clear that it is prepared to privatise First Citizens Bank, a merged Home Mortgage Bank/TTMF, ports (beginning with PLIPDECO), airports, public utilities and health care provision while it may seek so-called foreign “partners” for certain strategic enterprises (meaning Petrotrin).
In a society divided into haves and have-nots divestment/privatisation actually weakens what little influence the masses have and strengthens the position of the rich and powerful. Privatisation results in widespread retrenchment and increased foreign control of the economy.
It is scandalous that against this background the NATUC budget brief states: “NATUC realises that Government will choose to divest itself of some business activities”. Instead of calling for widespread resistance against the policy NATUC concludes: “these are excellent opportunities to deepen the involvement and stake of the Labour Movement in the economy.”
It further states: “where it is the intention to outsource or contract out jobs that the opportunities be given to the unions...the first rights to offer the respective service” and actually calls on the Government to "allocate a percentage of the contracts for the workers and their organisations" rather than fighting contracting out. The inescapable conclusion is that NATUC supports privatisation once unions get a share of the loot. If this is not wholesale betrayal of the interests of the working class then nothing is!
NATUC, in other words, is telling WASA workers to welcome retrenchment when the utility is sold off to foreign capital. NATUC is encouraging workers in the state-owned financial sector to seek retrenchment packages so that there could be further concentration of capital in the finance sector and make it easier for the penetration of foreign finance capital.
NATUC is encouraging workers of the Port of Spain City Council, the San Fernando City Council, PLIPDECO and MTS to change their status from unionised workers with job security to contract workers fighting for their former jobs which would have been outsourced. But they should be happy about it because their unions would now act, not as defenders of their class interests, but as labour supply contractors.
The National Workers’ Union calls upon all working people to reject vigorously and with great conviction NATUC’s position in support of the government’s privatisation policy.
The National Workers Union calls upon NATUC member unions to make their position on privatisation clear. Do they support privatisation or are they opposed to it and intend to fight it?
The National Workers Union, once again, repeats its call for the trade union movement to convene an All Union COSSABO to discuss the implications of the government’s privatisation programme and to begin to devise a strategy to defeat and utterly rout that policy.
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer – Cell: 785-7637)