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posted 24 Feb 2016, 13:14 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 24 Feb 2016, 13:20 ]






Dave Smith, the General Secretary of the National Health Workers Union, issued the following statement.


The announcement by the government that it is going to pay the pharmacists whom it owes for the provision of CDAP medications once again demonstrates the tremendous class bias that exists in T&T and that on a day to day basis reveals the double standards on which the society thrives.

The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) has no problem with the pharmacists being paid what they are owed, but we do have a problem with health workers not being paid what they, too, are owed. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander, but in capitalist society, Gopaul luck ent Seepaul luck, especially if Seepaul is an owner of capital and is capable of financing politicians and their parties.

The pharmacists who supply CDAP drugs are being paid after seven months. Health workers are owed retroactive payments that go back to 2011 and are constantly being jerked around as to when they will be paid.

Former Minister of Finance, Howai, had promised that health care workers and other workers in the public sector would have been paid at the end of November 2015. Present Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, at first promised to pay in January 2016. He nowpromises” that health care workers would be paid by September 2016. It must be noted that health care workers had to put on their marching boots and force the government to pay their wage increase in August or they might have still been on 2010 salaries. 

The class bias inherent in this capitalist society is not restricted to government policy options; it is embedded in the very law that governs the relationship between employers and workers. The pharmacists threatened to withhold CDAP services until they were paid. They, therefore, threatened to strike in order to have their interests satisfied. We have no problem with that.

What the National Health Workers Union (NHWU) does have a problem with is that the Industrial Relations Act prohibits health care workers from withholding their services, (taking strike action) in pursuit of their interests, just as the pharmacists threatened to do.

If health care workers do take strike action in pursuit of their interests, they are subject to fines and imprisonment, because they are deemed workers providing essential services. Strange that they are not deemed essential when it comes to decent salaries and civilised working conditions. Health workers, it seems, are children of a lesser god.

The very PNM government which enacted the Industrial Relations Act in 1972 is playing Russian roulette with health workers’ ability to keep their heads above water: to pay their rent, mortgages (which rates are due to increase shortly), transport costs, send their children to school, buy food etc. while fighting up with an inflation rate that has increased by over 40% since 2010.

It is clear to the NHWU that regardless of which party workers vote for, when it comes to defending their bread and butter, their class interests, working people have no friends in the government and if they do not fight to protect, defend and advance their interests crapaud smoke dey pipe. Employers, including the government, never willingly meet the demands of workers. They always have to be pressured, kicking and screaming to do so.




Dave Smith, General Secretary National Health Workers Union 683 5305