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posted 24 Jan 2012, 20:33 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 27 Jan 2012, 16:32 by Dave Smith ]
The National Workers’ Union (NWU) is of the view that recent developments within the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) cast the spotlight on a number of issues that are significant to the labour movement.

The MSJ presents itself and is portrayed in the media as the party of the working class and that this makes Labour a partner in the PP government.

The People’s Partnership is made up of five organisations, none of which is a union or a union federation. MSJ was formed just before the 2010 elections and sought endorsement from the April 18th 2010 Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch Officers (COSSABO) held at OWTU headquarters in San Fernando. That endorsement was not forthcoming.

April 18th 2010 was the first time the vast majority of those who attended the COSSABO had even heard the name MSJ. As far as can be ascertained, of the unions present at the COSSABO, only OWTU and CWU formally endorsed the MSJ. Labour personalities, who are members of the MSJ include, among others: Errol McLeod, David Abdulah, Ancel Roget, Vincent Cabrera and Joseph Remy.

These individuals have the right to join a political party of their choice and to support whichever government they find fit. But it does not follow that because some labour leaders and ex labour leaders are members of the MSJ that makes the MSJ the party of the working class and makes Labour a partner in government.

The National Workers Union is not against the position that a party representing the interests of the working class must be built. But such a party does not come into existence just because a few trade unionists declare it to be so. That position reeks of arrogance and disrespect for the rest of the working class movement.

Not because some trade unionists hold government posts does it mean that government represents the interests of Labour. Basdeo Panday was prime minister for years and his government never prioritised workers’ needs.

The National Workers Union believes a working class party can only be built in the process of defending, protecting and advancing working class interests through class solidarity, mass organisation, democratic participation, collective action and political education.

The stated policy of an organisation dedicated to advancing working class interests must be explicitly in the interest of the working class although in the final analysis talk is cheap - by their deeds they shall be judged.

The MSJ has never published a policy document so that the very workers it claims to represent do not have a clue as to what it upholds or condemns. It is astounding that the MSJ is part of the government and its policies are a mystery to the nation.

The National Workers’ Union finds it mind-blowing that the MSJ claims to represent the interests of the working class yet its leaders desperately cling on to a government that has made an about turn on its minimum wage position; pursued a policy of suppressing workers’ wages; dragged its feet on ratifying ILO Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers; announced a World Bank–crafted policy of privatisation; made no move to repeal or amend oppressive labour laws and imposed a state of emergency to obstruct trade unions from carrying out their essential tasks.

In a statement published on June 19th 2011 the National Workers Union stated: “The Workers’ Agenda has become a distant memory and the trade union movement is in defensive mode as it seeks to brakes the blows of the government...The strategy of the labour leaders who jumped into bed with the employers...in the People’s Partnership in a futile bid to influence them into adopting more labour-friendly policies has, predictably, crashed and burned.”

If the MSJ continues to be part of the People’s Partnership government the widespread suspicion would be confirmed that its leading figures are quite willing to assist the capitalists and the state in suppressing the labour movement in exchange for personal advancement. Their tactic of joining the regime is being revealed as nothing but naked opportunism


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


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Gerry Kangalee,
24 Jan 2012, 20:33