The National Workers Union (NWU) strongly condemns the unwarranted and unprovoked attack by the Police on the striking workers of Trinidad Cement Ltd. on the afternoon of February 28th 2012.
The NWU views this savage action of the police as an assault on the right to peaceful picketing as contained in the Trade Disputes and Protection of Property Act which states:
“3. It shall be lawful for one or more persons, acting on their own behalf or on behalf of a trade union or of an individual employer or firm in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, to attend at or near a house or place where a person resides or works or carries on business or happens to be, if they so attend merely for the purpose of peacefully obtaining or communicating information, or of peacefully persuading any person to work or abstain from working...”
It is clear that the free collective bargaining process is under grave threat not only from the obscene government intervention around the negotiating table in its attempt to serve the interests of the employers by imposing a wage cap
The free collective bargaining process is also under threat on the picket lines. It is legal in T&T to go on strike if negotiations break down and to engage in peaceful picketing in pursuance of the objective of the strike. Maintaining picket lines is, therefore, part and parcel of the process of free, collective bargaining.
The police attack on TCL strikers exposes clearly that the forces of the state serve the class interests of the employers. It shows that politicians in government are quite willing to break the very laws they are mandated to uphold in their eagerness to serve the class interests of the capitalists who finance and sustain their election machines. The police assault on the TCL picket line is clearly illegal and should be investigated by the Police Complaints Authority.
The National Workers Union calls upon the joint trade union movement to condemn the police brutality meted out to the TCL strikers and to recognise that the assault on the picket line was also designed to intimidate other unions who are gearing up to breach the government’s wage suppression policy as Petrotrin workers did recently.
The National Workers Union calls upon the joint trade union movement to mobilise its membership to join the TCL workers’ picket line on a sustained and ongoing basis and to do all that is necessary to ensure the victory of the TCL strike. As trade unionists we understand that the longer the picket line; the shorter the struggle!
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer – Cell: 785-7637)