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posted 18 Jun 2016, 19:53 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 18 Jun 2016, 20:07 ]



 The National Workers Union (NWU) issued the following statement on June 19th 2016. 

June 19th 2016 finds the working class is under severe pressure. The capitalists, employers and the State are adopting measures to force working people and the poor pay for the economic crisis brought about by the collapse of the price of oil and natural gas and the resultant drying up of the foreign exchange which is the lifeblood of our colonial economy. They call it sharing the burden and some of us support their call. 

The problem is that the whole burden has been placed on the backs of the working people. The big shots, the billionaires and their enforcers in the government are doing fine, while we suffer the slings and arrows of retrenchment, wage freeze, higher prices for food and pharmaceuticals and a crippling VAT burden.

The employers, including the government, have embarked on an orgy of retrenchment. While transnational corporations and local enterprises have sent home thousands of workers, the government has eagerly jumped into the arena and are getting rid of contract workers and temporary and casual daily paid workers. The government, bypassing the collective bargaining process, has unilaterally imposed by decree how public sector workers must access their arrears – their own money

BP, the largest of the oil-sucking vampires, is seeking to renegotiate its contract with NGC and the Atlantic Train One contract, so that they could get a bigger slice of the revenue at the expense of the treasury. Foreign onshore energy firms are calling for changes to the Petroleum Profits Tax (PPT) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is proposing that the Supplemental Petroleum Tax (SPT) be amended to reduce the tax liability of the energy corporations. The IMF has taken charge of the Ministry of Finance and is preparing the way for further privatisation and for a massive devaluation

Five employer organisations have produced a document stating that “every employee must have unfettered access to the law and the freedom to associate as they see fit, including the right to represent themselves.”

It also says that individual workers must have “the right to determine their own individual terms and conditions of employment.” and that “many non-unionized businesses already provide a fair and equitable work environment for employees...Employees in such businesses should have the ability to access employment rights and remedies without having to join a trade union.”

The Employers’ Consultative Association (ECA) has proposed that the definition of employer be changed to “protect” small and micro enterprises “from the impracticality of what can sometimes be exacting standards, with respect to unfair dismissal claims and trade disputes”. So no “good industrial relations practice” if you work for a small employer; 

  • if an employer has less than 20 workers, there should be no right to collective bargaining; 
  • unions should be de-recognised in workplaces where the number of members falls below twenty (20); 
  • a worker/union found guilty of illegal industrial action should pay the employer for lost profits; 
  • employers should have the right to unfairly dismiss workers if they have been employed for less than a year. We can now anticipate
  • probationary periods being extended from three months to 364 days; 
  • “fees” be introduced to process matters. So they can dismiss you, take away your wages and then expect you to pay for processing a claim for unfair dismissal; 
  • the amount of compensation that the court awards should be limited. They quote Barbados which is limited to five weeks pay for workers with less than two (2) years service. 

While the employers are closing ranks and seizing the opportunity to intensify the class struggle and step up the attacks on the rights, benefits and entitlements of workers, many trade union leaders continue to engage in divisive behaviour and seem more concerned with their personal self-interest than with defending and protecting the working class.

It is ludicrous that we have NATUC and FITUN and now we have JTUM in a dogfight with one other, scrambling and snarling to get the favours of a government which has taken the lead in piling on the pressure on their members by raising taxes, allowing the merchants to increase prices at will and sending home hundreds of contract workers.

In the midst of this carnage some trade union leaders are still calling for consultation, complaining about non-implementation of the toothless Memorandum of Understanding and tripartite approaches as if they do not understand that we are involved in a vicious class struggle, the outcome of which will determine our quality of life for years to come. There is no relief from those who profit from our misery. There is no way the capitalists are going to share anything – unless they are forced to do so! We cannot hide from the reality of the class struggle!

There is need for a massive fight back against this ongoing assault by the employers, the capitalists and the State. The French working class is showing the way. They are fighting tooth and nail to defeat the austerity measures inflicted by their government. If we want the laws relative to severance changed; if we want the laws restricting the right to strike changed; if we want the laws governing recognition of trade unions changed; if we want the Workers Agenda implemented, it is not good enough to simply call for the changing of those laws. We must be prepared to bring all our power to bear on those who can change the laws.

We must engage in a sustained campaign of mass mobilisation not only of our members but also the unorganised working people. Mobilisation cannot be done through the media. The workers must be involved at the branch, workplace, mass membership meeting, COSSABO and community levels.

The implications of the assault by the capitalist class must be discussed thoroughly with the members and the community and guidance must be sought from them as to what they are prepared to do to bring a halt to this growing attack. We must look at the lessons of 1989, when we stopped the then government in its tracks with the General Strike of March 6th (Day of Resistance)






Gerry Kangalee,
18 Jun 2016, 19:53
Gerry Kangalee,
18 Jun 2016, 19:53