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posted 15 Sept 2011, 23:00 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Sept 2011, 23:21 ]


The National Workers’ Union (NWU) is not surprised that the police have obstructed and prevented the Joint Trade Union Movement from going about its legitimate business in Tobago on September 15th. This is further evidence that the state of emergency was declared to prevent the mobilisation by the trade unions toward a general strike against the government’s policy of wage suppression.

The NWU considers this new slap in the face of the working class movement as fitting a pattern of government utilising the state of emergency to attempt to intimidate the working class from seeking to secure its interests in a political and economic situation of instability and volatility.

At the same time other interests in the society are receiving assistance from the state in securing their interests e.g. the CLICO bailout seems set to cost the treasury an additional $10 billion. Yet public sector and state enterprise workers are being assaulted by the state and browbeaten into accepting a wage cap when the ratio of wages and salaries to Gross Domestic Product has been shrinking; when wages and salaries as a percentage of government expenditure has gone from 23.6% in 2005 to 17.9% despite an 11 % increase in national revenue.

In its attitude toward the trade union movement the government has shifted from attempting to persuade the workers with honeyed words that it is in their best interest to co-operate in destroying their standard of living and the future of their offspring. The velvet glove has come off and the iron fist stands revealed. It is now widely recognised that the government’s policy toward workers is as bitter as wormwood and sharp as a two-edged sword.

The State of Emergency is intended to accustom people to the sight of uniformed enforcers armed to the teeth eager to trample the rights of the population under their government boots on the pretext of saving us from criminal activity by transforming us from citizens to subjects. The National Workers Union will have none of it.

The State of Emergency is intended to pacify the population to such an extent that the austerity budget that the Minister of Finance will shortly bring to parliament will not be resisted and opposed by working people who are already under the guns of high prices, job insecurity, growing income inequality, crumbling infrastructure, rampant corruption, an inequitable judicial system, discrimination in the provision of social services and criminality in high and low places.

The National Workers’ Union warns the government that political repression will not solve these problems, but rather will breed resistance that will not be as disciplined if the trade unions are weakened and rendered ineffective which is the object of the war of attrition being waged by the government against the unions. The National Workers’ Union once again calls on the government to lift the state of emergency without delay.


Gerry Kangalee (NWU National Education and Research Officer - 785-7637)
Gerry Kangalee,
15 Sept 2011, 23:03