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posted 18 Jun 2017, 20:05 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 18 Jun 2017, 20:14 ]
The following statement was issued by the National Workers Union (NWU) on June 19th 2017:

June 19th 2017 marks the eightieth anniversary of the General Strike and Insurrection that gave birth to the trade union movement. This is truly an event worth celebrating and the National Workers Union salutes all who gather in historic Fyzabad to pay tribute to the working class fighters of 1937.

The employers and the ruling elites who control and manipulate the confidence tricksters and hustlers called politicians. are determined to make the workers pay for the capitalist crisis so that the parasites could continue to live high off the hog and continue to wallow in the mud of corruption and feed at the trough of public funds.

We see the wave of divestments, attempts at privatisation, the shift toward private medical care at the expense of the public health system, the downsizing of the public service, wage freezes, attacks on social benefits, the gutting of GATE, the entrenching of contract labour, subsidies for transnational corporations, increased taxation, removal of fuel subsidy, mass retrenchments and a growing inequality between the tiny elite at the top and the rest of society.

They are attacking workers pensions, both the NIS and occupational pension plans. They want us to wuk and dead by increasing the retirement age, increasing workers’ contributions and reducing employers’ contributions. The employers are resorting to the Appeal Court to overturn decisions of the Recognition Board. They are appealing against awards of the Industrial Court and in many cases simply refusing to implement court awards.

Thousands of workers have lost their jobs and thousands more are at risk as the employers led by the State, exhort the workers to sacrifice in the “national interest” while they give back billions of dollars to BP, play the arse with the twenty something billion dollars Duprey debt and seek ways to eliminate thousands of jobs at Petrotrin.

Some of the companies that have gotten rid of workers or are in the process of doing so are: Arcelor Mittal without a
single cent in severance pay; CENTRIN; RBC; OAS; CCN; Guardian Media Ltd., Industrial Plant Service Limited; Government Human Resource Services; Caroni Green; GISL; Atlantic LNG and many more.

While the employers and the state have clearly and openly declared war on the working people, many of our trade union leaders are holding on tightly to the coat tails of the corrupt race-based political parties. Our leaders signing declarations and MOUs with whatever corrupt political party is in office, while our people losing their jobs by the thousands. THIS NONSENSE HAS TO STOP!

It is time that working people organise ourselves to launch a fightback against those who are consigning our families to a life of hardship so they could prop up their system of profit maximisation and looting of public funds. The united trade unions must initiate that fightback.

This unity must go far beyond marching together in Fyzabad. We have heard and seen it so many times before and we will believe it when we see unity around a campaign based on utilising the power of numbers and our power over production. That is the strength of the trade union movement!

We have attended all the consultations, submitted numerous documents outlining our position on amendments to labour laws, did research and argued till we turn blue, but they do not take us on. Why? Because they consider the trade union movement’s leadership to be a bunch of blowhards, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Union members must let the leadership know that if the strength of our arguments is having little effect, then we must demonstrate the argument of our strength which is the power of numbers and our power over production.

Trade union leaders must realise that the struggle is not about them and their public posturing and petty political intrigues. It is about protecting, maintaining and defending workers’ interests; living, breathing human beings with children to send to school and grandparents to mind. We are struggling to survive in a hostile economic, social, political and security environment. Talking unity is one thing...the taste of the pudding is in the eating!

We are being emasculated as workers and we are being put under serious stress as citizens of a country where the bigger gangs control the government and the police and the smaller gangs control the streets. The trade union leaders must do less talking and more listening. They must listen to what the workers are saying. They must be as accountable to their members and to working people just as they want government to be accountable to the citizens. If we want the Workers Agenda implemented, we must engage in a sustained campaign of mass mobilisation not only of our members but also the unorganised working people.

Mobilisation cannot be done through the media. The workers must be involved at the branch, workplace, mass membership meetings, COSSABO and at community levels. The situation must be discussed thoroughly with the members and the community and guidance must be sought from them as to what they are prepared to do and when they are prepared to do it.

The country is in a deep crisis. The institutions of authority and control have all crumbled: government, police, judiciary, church. Bandits, money launderers and thieves are jostling for control. There needs to be trade union unity in deed and not in talk, so that working people can secure our interests in the midst of all the mayhem and the madness. Trade union unity must not be a unity of leaders. It must be unity in action.

We must initiate dialogue with people’s organisations in the communities and those which represent particular interests be they ecological, cultural, or issue-based. We must review the lessons of March 1989, the day of resistance, when the trade unions were divided organisationally, but united in action and shut the country down.

This is not about Roget or Annisette or Lambert or Cabrera. This is about hundreds of thousands of working people and their families - whether they continue to be treated as people of no consequence or whether they push back against the assault on their quality of life and create some breathing space for themselves as we fight to survive in a crumbling capitalist system.

Trade union leaders must recognise that their place is with their members and not with the race-based political parties which promise paradise but deliver hell on earth. Failure to recognise this means that when push come to shove, they will be seen by their own members as no different to the exploiters and will be treated as such!