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posted 21 May 2013, 14:10 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 21 May 2013, 19:59 ]



The National Workers Union (NWU) notes with great concern the government’s intention to make initial public offerings (IPO’s) on the stock exchange of First Citizens Bank’s (FCB) shares and the shares of the proposed Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Bank (TTMB), an entity to be created by the proposed merger of the Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company (TTMF) and the Home Mortgage Bank (HMB). 
The FCB IPO is slated for June 2013 and the TTMB IPO is slated for December 2013. If these IPO’s take place then these important publicly owned enterprises will end up in the hands of the capitalists. 
Sharon Christopher, Deputy CEO of FCB, expects the bank’s issue to be around $1 billion. The after-tax profit for the year ended September 2011 was $718 million. No wonder the banksters, finance capitalists and conmen are eager to get their hands on FCB’s extremely valuable assets and their enforcers in the government are making haste to give it to them. 
If the newly structured TTMB is privatised, big business will make a killing and what is left of the low cost housing business will go by the board. This market will now be run commercially on the basis of profit maximisation and not that of housing the nation. 
Those who believe that public assets belong to them have not even considered consulting with the public about their nefarious intentions to hand over our assets to the banksters, financial hustlers and conmen, but both Christopher and Ingrid Lashley, CEO of TTMF, have hastened to say that “big institutional investors” are being consulted about the IPO’s. Lashley has said “we have gone out for requests for proposals from corporate finance players…” 
The National Workers Union notes that the National Insurance Board (NIB) is crucial to the proposed divestments of FCB and TTMF/HMB. The NIB owns 51% of TTMF, (government owns 49%) and 51.3% of HMB. The NIB also owns $252 million worth of ordinary shares and $104 million worth of preferential shares in FCB. 
The intention to get NIB out of low cost housing mortgages is contrary to the National Insurance Act which establishes a DUTY under section 23(1) on the NIB to invest its funds in
“Mortgages and other titles for repayment of loans secured by any of the securities described at paragraphs 1, 3 and 4.” 
The National Workers Union further notes that, by law, three labour representatives sit on the Board of NIB and by extension one labour representative sits on the subsidiary boards of TTMF and HMB respectively. 
The Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) has publicly announced its opposition to privatisation and last May Day launched “a national campaign against privatization to protect our national patrimony” as stated in the resolution adopted by the JTUM at a Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch Officers (COSSABO) held at the Communication Workers Union (CWU) Hall on Henry Street in Port of Spain on Saturday March 23rd 2013. 
The National Workers Union urges the JTUM to develop a strategy in consultation with the labour representatives on the NIB Board to attempt to derail, delay and prevent the privatisation of FCB and TTMF/HMB by utilising all the mechanisms available to them as board members of the NIB, TTMF and HMB.  
This strategy should be in conjunction with the JTUM’s position as stated in the resolution cited above:
“to build support and solidarity amongst workers directly affected by the immediate threat of privatization … through a series of workplace meetings …Develop a Public Relations campaign using traditional and non-traditional mass media…Embark on a series of community meetings and protest demonstrations similar to the campaign against the 5% wage cap…Conduct a series of in-house workshops, seminars, panel discussions and debates with various stakeholders on the issue of privatization.” 
The National Workers Union stands solidly in support of the JTUM’s anti-privatisation resolution and urges the workers and people of Trinidad and Tobago not to stand on the sidelines as political hustlers give away our national patrimony but to get involved in the struggle to ensure that upcoming generations inherit their just due. 

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Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer – Cell: 785-7637)
Gerry Kangalee,
21 May 2013, 19:59