NWU SAYS REJECT WASA VSEP
The National Workers Union (NWU) notes with concern the VSEP offered by the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to their workers across the board.
The NWU believes this is yet another step in the implementation of the PP government’s policy of privatisation of the public utility. This intention to privatise WASA is a part of its overall policy of privatisation which, by admission of the former Minister of Finance, is to involve, ports, airports, public utilities and health care provision.
This is in addition to the announced intention to privatise First Citizens Bank, to merge and privatise TTMF/Home Mortgage Bank, to seek a “foreign partner” for Petrotrin, to divest PLIPDECO.
The workers at the Port of Spain and San Fernando City Councils are in danger of having their jobs contracted out and the workers at MTS have already been threatened with having their functions outsourced. The new Minister of Finance has stated that there are eleven enterprises already earmarked for privatisation.
Privatisation is part of the policy of international capital known as neo-liberalism. It promotes privatisation/divestment; downsizing of the public sector; private sector provision of public goods and services (private public partnership); outsourcing; wage suppression; de-regulation and an assault on workers’ rights, benefits entitlements and on their unionised status.
WASA seems to be the pilot project in the move to privatise public utilities. T&TEC, TTPOST, PTSC, the Port of Port of Spain and other public goods providers may be up on the chopping block.
Aquagest Solutions (a subsidiary of Agbar), a Spanish transnational was hired to, in the words of WASA, “conduct...audits, review the organisation’s processes and analyse selected business models to determine the best model for the organisation.” What this management-speak means is that Agbar developed a privatisation model for WASA.
WASA’s drive to collect arrears at the risk of disconnection was an attempt to clean up their books to make it more attractive to a foreign predator. The VSEP is intended to slash the workforce to levels which would make it attractive to buyers and Minister Ganga Singh has moved from WASA into the cabinet to ensure everything goes smoothly.
The disheartening aspect of the move to privatise WASA is that there seems to be no move on the part of the unions involved in the utility to oppose the privatisation policy and to fight to save thousands of jobs and prevent critical public utilities from falling into the hands of foreign transnational corporations. The concern seems more to be about the quantum of termination benefits instead.
The National Workers Union warns workers at WASA that VSEP money does run out and that termination payments are no substitute for a secure job over time.
The National Workers Union warns working people that privatisation results in massive loss of jobs, increases in utility rates and the handing over of assets owned by the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to foreign capital and private sector interests. Of course citizens have to swallow the losses while capitalist interests gain liability-free assets.
The National Workers Union calls upon the workers at WASA, the unions involved and working people generally to reject and condemn the VSEP offered to WASA workers.
The National Workers’ Union calls upon all working people to reject the government’s privatisation policy.
The National Workers Union calls upon all unions in the country to make their position on privatisation clear. Do they support privatisation or are they opposed to it and intend to fight it?
The National Workers Union, once again, repeats its call for the trade union movement to convene an All Union COSSABO to discuss the implications of the government’s privatisation programme and to make recommendations to beat back and defeat that policy.