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posted 23 Nov 2015, 18:24 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 23 Nov 2015, 18:29 ]
In a statement dated November 23rd 2015 the National Workers Union stated: The National Workers Union (NWU) notes with concern the imposition of a wage freeze on the salaries of workers of the National Gas Company (NGC) and its subsidiaries. This, in a state enterprise that in 2014 made a profit of $7.5 billion! 

The new board of NGC, led by former Ansa McAl CEO Gerry Brooks, justifies its oppressive action by referring to the fall in energy prices and the need for “controlling the major areas of expenditure.” 

The workers are being made to pay for the wanton looting of the most profitable state enterprise by the last government which drained the cash reserves of the company to bridge its budget deficit and to finance off the books projects of a blatantly partisan nature, designed to enrich a favoured few.

It is clear that the government intends to make the working people of this country, who had no part in bringing it about pay for the economic crisis. It is also clear that what has happened at NGC is the template for how the other state enterprises are going to be dealt with.

The attack on NGC workers is actually picking low hanging fruit, because the workers of NGC are not represented by a recognised majority union. In such a scenario, there is a master-servant relationship between management and workers and workers are at the mercy of management. If those workers were members of a recognised majority union, then NGC could not unilaterally impose a wage freeze on them. They would have had to meet and treat with the union.

This brings sharply into focus the need for workers in T&T to organise themselves into unions so that they can have a fighting chance in dealing with the attacks of the employers and the state as working people are being forced to bear the brunt of the crisis that they had no part in creating.

Even when workers attempt to organise themselves into unions, the recognition procedures, designed to delay and frustrate them, take years and make a mockery of workers constitutional right to freedom of assembly and to the need for expeditious resolution of recognition claims.

The National Workers Union advises working people to take heed of the situation at NGC and warns all workers, whether unionised or not, especially those in the public service, state enterprises and statutory authorities, that they are on the chopping block as the government inevitably moves to impose austerity on the working people.

Workers have to organise to defend their standard of living and union leaders must not allow themselves to be used by the government to disarm the workers and to have them co-operate in their own oppression by encouraging workers to “share” in the burden of adjustment, when it is quite clear that the entire burden is being placed on their shoulders.