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posted 22 Sept 2016, 11:59 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 22 Sept 2016, 12:06 ]
On 2016-09-22, the National Workers union issued the following statement.

The National Workers Union is clear that the government of Trinidad and Tobago is actively working against the interests of working people and the poor as it moves to secure the interests of those sectors in the society which have a vested interest in maintaining and increasing inequality and exploitation.

Addressing BPTT's Statistical Review forum in Port of Spain on Thursday September 15th, BP Trinidad and Tobago President Norman Christie, the most powerful economic player in the country, made the most significant political statement for the last few years.

Christie warned the country that efforts to update the nation's gas master plan "must result in clear policy decisions regarding matters such as gas allocation and price and must incentivize upstream investments in an increasingly competitive environment."

...Failure to bring clarity to these matters quickly will result in a sharp decline in investments, which will lead to a repeat of the circumstances that have materially contributed to the natural gas supply and demand imbalance that we are currently experiencing; only it will be worse," he said.

He went on to say "The next phase of planned major developments...are still not sanctioned and will not be sanctioned unless policy decisions properly recognize the context in which we are operating."

He then threatened to withdraw BP’s planned US $5 billion of investment over the next three to four years into natural gas projects, if the transnational corporation does not have its way. In other words, BP has no qualms about undermining and destroying the economy of T&T if the government does not bow to its demand for further concessions on top of those that ex-Energy Minister Ramnarine is so proud of boasting that the UNC government gave them.

Image result for norman christie
Norman Christie
BPTT is the largest producer of gas in Trinidad and Tobago and a major stakeholder in all four trains of Atlantic LNG. It is the largest contributor to government revenue and to the foreign exchange earnings of the country. The international energy sector is in crisis and BP is moving to ensure that T&T pays for the crisis and not BPTT.

How does the Prime Minister respond to this threat? With deathly silence! Not a word! After all the transnational corporations are untouchable!

There are billions of dollars in outstanding taxes that are not being collected. There is a serious land grab taking place with ex-Caroni lands and in Chaguaramas. There is obscene bias and inequity in the allocation of the precious foreign exchange, the vast majority of which emanates from the energy sector, and, therefore, belongs to all the people of T&T. There is a never-ending spiral of the cost of living, of food and pharmaceuticals are particularly hard hit.

What does the Prime Minister say about these oppressive and exploitative practices that are bleeding working people and the poor? Not a word! After all, the politicians, who are no more than enforcers for the ruling elites, cannot afford to alienate their financiers.

What does he talk about instead!? He is threatening to retrench public sector workers - police, fire officers, prison officers, health care personnel and those whose negotiations have not yet been settled, like T&TEC workers. The IMF must be rubbing its hands in glee. This is not surprising. It is classical neo-liberal medicine to ensure that working people and the poor are forced to pay for the capitalist crisis.

Mr. Rowley is irritated that workers are demanding their retroactive payments - a debt that is due to them, having already sold their labour power for wages that they have not yet received. If you get your retroactive, the goodly gentleman thunders, you may be out of a job. Actually, the intention is to reduce the size of the public sector anyway, backpay or no backpay.

The most vulnerable sector in the Prime Minister’s gun sights are the thousands of health care personnel who are not protected by a recognised majority union; unlike police, prison and fire officers. It is clear that the gloves are off!

What is pathetic about the whole affair is that trade union leaders continue to spout verbiage about “social partners” and MOU's and are calling on the government to tackle the economic crisis by ensuring that the proverbial “burden” is shared “equitably.” It's like telling a vampire that it must eat rice instead of drinking blood.

Two days after the PM made it clear that he has lined up the working class on the chopping block, two (or is it three?) Trade Union federations met with him and gushed about how fruitful the talks were. They were hopeful that if the government takes the lead in developing a “national consensus” the burden of adjustment would be shared equitably and the ruling elites would be expected to carry their "fair" share. What absolute rubbish! It's like telling a bandit just thief less now so that you could keep on thiefin' for a longer period.

The National Workers Union is quite aware that we are in the midst of a raging class struggle and no amount of appeals to the consciences of the ruling elites are going to cut it. They are moving to secure their pound of flesh and that flesh is being cut from our backsides.

The National Workers Union urges working people to defend the little that we have by exercising our power in such a way that if they do not back off it is going to hurt them. Our power is the power over production and the potential power to put numbers in the streets.

The National Workers Union calls upon the organised workers to put pressure on their trade union leaders to stop playing hansy pansy with the employers, the ruling elites and their political enforcers and to organise their resources to push back against the assault on the living standards of working people and the poor by utilising the power of the people against the people in power, both economic and political.


Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer. Cell: 785-7637)