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posted 28 Apr 2011, 17:49 by Gerry Kangalee
28 April 2011

The Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) condemns in the strongest terms possible the highly insensitive bulldozing of food crops by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). The Minister of Housing and the Environment, Dr. Roodal Moonilal must explain to the people of Trinidad and Tobago what precisely is the People’s Partnership’s policy with regards to the use of arable land for housing? He needs to tell the country who gave the instructions to bull-doze the crops.

This uncaring action by HOC on Easter Monday in D’Abadie and then continuing on Tuesday in Chaguanas, has demonstrated the highest level of disrespect for our hard working farmers and a callous disregard for our own food production.

The OWTU notes with the deepest concern that this is the same Minster who only a few weeks ago publicly stated in a most arrogant fashion that Trade Unions and workers should ‘wine to the side’ and accept wage increase of 5%. Clearly, by the HDC actions which come under his ministry, it would appear that he is now telling farmers to do the same.

We take serious offence to this arrogant stance being displayed by the Minister of Housing and the Environment especially since he came from a Trade Union which provided representation for farmers.

We would like to remind the People’s Partnership government that the Workers’ Agenda, signed by 18 Trade Unions prior to the May 24th 2010 general elections, called for the immediate halt to the destruction of agricultural land. We also wish to remind the People’s Partnership about their campaign commitment to end the destruction of agricultural land and to halt its use for housing. Further on page 59 of their manifesto under the heading “Food Production and Food Security”, the pillar for the development of agriculture identified as a first priority “respect for agriculture, the farmers and the land”.

The gruesome sight of fully armed state police fiercely guarding the wanton destruction of food with bulldozers is a painful reminder of the police brutality meted to the OWTU during our struggle against the Property Tax on December 2009 at the Red House.

This PNM’s Anti-People approach to development is what the People’s Partnership seems to be embracing, This is not only a continuation of the PNM Policy which the People’s Partnership vehemently condemned, but it is also a direct contradiction to both the Workers’ Agenda and their “Prosperity for All Manifesto”.

The destruction of food crops which were ready for harvest is both regrettable and unforgivable and can never be justified. The OWTU stands firmly in solidarity with the farmers and fully endorse their justifiable demands for an apology by the HDC Manager, full and adequate compensation, land tenure for the farmers and completion of the Land-Use and Land Development Policy.

We further demand that the Minister of Housing and the Environment, Dr. Roodal Moonilal be held fully accountable and must also apologies. We insist that Food Production and Food Sovereignty is a critical aspect of our country’s development as we seek to improve the quality of life of all our citizens.

Ancel Roget

President General