NWU REJECTS DOOKERAN’S AUSTERITY MEASURES
The National Workers Union (NWU) warns Finance Minister, Winston Dookeran, that state of emergency or no state of emergency, the working class will not sit idly by and accept the imposition of further austerity measures in the 2011-2012 budget which is due shortly.
The finance minister has been cited in the media as talking about a “time of austerity” and is quoted in one daily newspaper as saying: “The (unions') issue was never five per cent- it has to do with the compensation package and in the context of fiscal equation, it has been a compensation package that has both relatively and absolutely what we can afford."
The government is using the atmosphere created by the state of emergency, not only to strip people of their civil rights but to force more economic hardship and pressure on the working people who are already reeling from high prices and, in the case of public sector workers, a government policy of wage suppression.
The government intends to implement austerity measures when the budget for the second year running will be over $50 billion; when they are seeking to raise the ceiling on government borrowing which suggests that the public sector debt to GDP ratio is really “comfortable”, the word used by the Governor of the Central Bank to describe it.
This same Dookeran who wants to inflict austerity measures on the people said in June: “We have removed the dark clouds in the air and now we are about to see the blue sky of economic recovery” Even the capitalist Moody’s Rating Agency was forced to admit: “the government’s financial strength is ranked high on a global scale due to low levels of Gov’t debt and a solid fiscal position.”
The same Dookeran who is talking austerity budget said two days after world stock markets fell as Standard and Poors downgraded the US Economy; ““TT is not in a grim situation”.
Provisional estimates from the Ministry of Finance reveal that the central government accounts registered a surplus of $1,227 million in the first nine months of the current fiscal year and that revenue was 8.4 per cent higher than originally budgeted because of higher energy prices. The Central Bank’s July Economic Report reveals that Trinidad and Tobago had thirteen months of import cover, when three months cover is internationally acceptable.
The government should be mindful that when their spiritual ancestors, the NAR, forced austerity measures down the throats of working people, it led to the March 6th 1989 Day of Resistance, the first general strike in the country since 1937. Eventually, the atmosphere created by those measures induced the coup attempt in 1990.
If the government is not willing to learn from history, they should pay attention to what is taking place in the European Community. In Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, France and Italy, governments are implementing austerity measures and the working people are fighting back. There have been general strikes in Greece and Spain and on September 6th Italian workers engaged in a massive strike struggle against the Berlusconi government’s austerity measures. Working people all over the world are no longer prepared to tolerate political and economic repression. The class struggle is consuming Europe.
The National Workers Union (NWU) advises the PP government to turn back from the path of fascism they have embarked upon. The NWU reiterates its call to end the state of emergency and to desist from inflicting austerity measures in the budget. Working people will not tolerate it.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Gerry Kangalee (NWU National Education and Research Officer - 785-7637)