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posted 5 Jul 2013, 03:14 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 5 Jul 2013, 03:25 ]
The following statement was issued by the National Workers Union at the Joint Trade Union Movement's demonstration on July 5th 2013:
The National Workers Union supports this July 5th demonstration organised by the Joint Trade Union Movement for implementation of the Workers Agenda; good governance; against corruption. We have always supported the Workers Agenda which was hammered out at a historic Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch Officers (COSSABO) on May 18th 2010 held at Paramount Building in San Fernando, the month before the PP election victory.
The Workers’ Agenda calls for, among other things, limitations on the right to strike to be removed; decertification of Trade Unions to be outlawed; speedy resolutions of recognition claims; the removal of restrictions on workers’ right to join a trade union of their choice; all workers to be recognised as workers: the term “worker” should be amended to include drivers, domestic workers, etc.

It also calls for: repeal of the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act, No 32/85 which does not provide for payment of severance pay to workers who are faced with company closure; amendment of the Companies Act so workers severance could be given the highest priority when a company goes into receivership; repeal of Workmen’s Compensation Act and replacement with a modern Employee Injury and Disability Act; amendment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to deal with the environmental aspects of occupational health and safety.

It also calls for a policy on migrant labour; the cessation of restructuring of state companies and the public service resulting in retrenchment and the loss of trade union recognition; an end to Contract Labour in the Public Service, Teaching Service, and State Sector generally as this results in job insecurity, and inferior terms and condition of employment, and opens up avenues for corruption. 

While organised labour welcomes all the support it can get we must examine the horns. Do Rowley, Franklyn Khan, Imbert and them support the Workers’ Agenda? Of course not! The PNM enacted the ISA and the IRA during two different states of emergency. The greatest revolutionary uprising in the history of T&T was the 1970 uprising. Who was the government in office? The PNM! The PNM on two occasions jailed trade union leaders; attacked and brutalised workers on Bloody Tuesday 1975; declared a state of emergency in the Post Office in Port of Spain. 

The PNM accelerated the privatisation programme begun by the NAR; set up the Public Sector Negotiating Committee to frustrate and delay wage negotiations; tried to hand over MTS to their CPEP contractor partners; put an injunction on PTSC workers; tried to decertify TIWU and CWU; introduced the contract system that has destabilised the public service; supports the farm out lease out programme in Petrotrin. PNM supports the divestment of FCB! PNM does not and cannot support the Workers’ Agenda. 

They represent the interests of the employers and the capitalists, just as the UNC and the COP do and no amount of skin teeth and hug up by Rowley is going to change that! Rowley appearing on a JTUM platform is not going to turn him into a champion of the working class. A capitalist politician is a capitalist politician! He has his financiers to satisfy. 
We support the position outlined by CWU Secretary General John Julien in a statement made in September 2012 when he said: “…the CWU is also very skeptical of moves by the PNM to befriend and join hands with the Trade Union Movement…We cannot allow them to pursue and promote their own political agenda, especially when the CWU as an organisation witnessed the threat of decertification under the Governance of the said PNM. 
In that regard we are warning our Comrades and the ordinary citizens of Trinidad and Tobago that whilst we are championing the fight for Good Governance, Social Justice and Equity for all and Integrity in Public Office; we must be wary of those “pimps” who use every opportunity to bolster their fading political image.”

We have great sympathy for and support the sentiment expressed by President of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union, Nirvan Maharaj, when he announced:
“…as a matter of principle the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union will not at this point in time; take part in any March, in which officials of the Peoples National Movement (PNM) will be attending.… the callous and brutal shutdown of the Sugar Industry without any proper mechanisms in place to alleviate the subsequent hardship of thousands of persons dependant on the Industry and the treatment of the Ex-Caroni workers at the hands of the PNM was tantamount to an abuse of power

…that the appeal of the Deyalsingh judgment of 2007… which ordered that each Ex-Caroni worker by 2008 be allotted the 2 acre agricultural plot and residential lot legally due to them through the VESEP package, was a heartless attempt by the PNM to deny the…workers their legitimate expectation and just due… The actions of the PNM have caused untold dismay, suffering, pain and frustration … and cannot easily be forgiven… the PNM joining the labour march is political tricky at its worst and a hypocrisy that knows no bounds…”

Where the NWU differs from ATGWTU is that nobody go run we out of our own activity, especially PNM band wagon riders and vote hustlers.

In March 1989, the Day of Resistance, the then Joint Trade Union Group completely shut down the country to protest the NAR’s IMF surrender. The PNM was in no way involved.

In T&T political parties strive for office to loot public funds and accumulate capital for politicians and their financiers through the award of contacts where cost over-runs and kickbacks are the norm. That is the nature of our crony capitalist system and PNM is the one who built the corruption template! All the capitalist parties follow the same policies. Corruption have no party card!

The struggle must not be restricted to that of “good governance”. The power structure in the country is based on corruption and inequality, exploitation and oppression. The watchmen for the system are a bunch of thieves – kleptocrats! It is a vicious capitalist system and we cannot depend on political parties that defend the interests of capital to seek the interests of workers. If we seek good governance, then we must actively work to dismantle the capitalist system. Only the organised power of the working class has that potential.

While we fight up for “good governance” and switch from one capitalist party to the other the power structure remains in place – the conglomerates, financial smartmen, drug dealers and transnational corporations continue to rule the roost. Going from Bim to Bam is not going to change that situation! UNCOPNM’s policy defends the interests of employers not that of workers. The working class can only depend on itself to advance its interests.

The task is not to sneak into the neo-colonial parliament by aligning ourselves with a corrupt, capitalist political party as the MSJ did with UNC and is now trying to do with the PNM. The task is to patiently build a mass movement through education, agitation and direct action. If we maximise our strength through the judicious deployment of the power of numbers and through our power over production, then whatever group of jacket and tie gangsters forms the government cannot afford to ignore the demands of the working people. 
Who wins the next elections is not as important as how organised the labour movement is, how capable it is of protecting its interests. This capacity can only be built by democratising the trade union movement, developing structures where the voice of the rank and file must not only be heard, but acted upon and by organising the hundreds of thousands of workers who are not unionised. 

We possess the power of collective strength in numbers and, more importantly, we possess the power over production. We must remove the scales from our eyes and understand that we cannot put our fate in the hands of political parties that serve the interests of the employers and capitalists. We advance our interests by relying on ourselves and building an anti-capitalist mass movement whose strategic objective is not simply trying to get into electoral office, but to weaken and eventually dismantle capitalism itself.





Gerry Kangalee,
5 Jul 2013, 03:22