STOP THE PRIVATISATION HOG TROUGH
The National Workers Union salutes the trade union movement on the seventy fifth anniversary of the anti-colonial insurrection and general strike of 1937 that laid the foundation for the progress made by the working class over the period.
Today this progress is in danger of being reversed. Not since the 1980’s has the trade union movement and the working class been subject to so much pressure from the capitalist employers and their bought and paid for political enforcers.
The National Workers Union views the wage suppression/wage cap policy as the first round in their assault on workers’ standard of living. It is part of a broader policy designed by the IMF and World Bank to transfer income from the pockets of the workers of the world into the coffers of international bankers, finance capitalists, speculators and assorted financial con artists and smartmen.
This policy known as neoliberalism includes, in addition to wage suppression, privatisation/divestment of some state enterprises; securing of so-called strategic partners for others; downsizing of the public sector by outsourcing the supply of public goods and services; mass retrenchment among state enterprise workers and their substitution by contract labour.
The government is now embarking on round two of the attack on the working class. This involves the policy of privatisation which leads to increased foreign control of the economy.
In the 20112012 budget speech the Finance Minister spoke of: “a second phase of the programme which would involve, where appropriate, the implementation of further public offerings or the securing of strategic investors for some of those enterprises.”
In a speech delivered at the AMCHAM Conference held on Wednesday 10 November 2011 at the Hilton Minister Dookeran said “state enterprises should now be rationalized to allow for equity offerings to the public. That is a policy directive.”
This privatisation policy is based on the advice given by the IMF in its December 2010 Article IV consultation report which advised the government to invite private sector participation, and accelerate privatisation, with assistance from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank.
The IFC has been in the country since November 2010 and has done assessments on state enterprise rationalisation and worked on the actual mechanisms for privatisation.
In his speech on Public Private Partnership at the Hyatt on Tuesday November 1st, 2011 the Minister of Finance spoke of privatising public utilities, ports, airports, health care provision and pensions.
PLIPDECO has been identified for divestment and according to Dookeran, a further seven enterprises are to be privatised. This is in addition to First Citizens Bank. The Home Mortgage Bank is to be merged with the TTMF and divested.
The lease out and farm out operators who operate under the cloak of the Energy Chamber (formerly South Trinidad Chamber of Commerce) are thirsting after Trinmar operations as are (according to the website of UPSTREAM, an international oil and gas news source) Indian giants Oil & Natural Gas Corporation and Reliance Industries. A foreign“partner” is also being sought for Petrotrin’s Pointe-A-Pierre Refinery.
BP, BG and BHP the big transnational corporations that control our oil and gas production have already made it quite clearly that they want to cut out the National Gas Company from the value chain.
WASA seems to have been chosen as the pilot project in the move to privatise public utilities. Soon it may be the turn of T&TEC, TTPOST, PTSC, the Port of Port of Spain and other public goods providers to be privatised with massive job losses. WASA has signed a contract with Aquagest Solutions (a subsidiary of Agbar), a Spanish transnational. According to WASA this company “will conduct...audits, review the organisation’s processes and analyse selected business models to determine the best model for the organisation,”
The government’s policy to privatise public utilities is underway and WASA’s frantic drive to collect arrears at the risk of disconnection is clearly a move to clean up the books to make it more attractive to a foreign predator.
The shutting down of MTS and the outsourcing of its facilities management function to UNC financiers has already been proposed by Minister Gopeesingh. But there is also the threat posed by a British company called Europa Ltd. which has expressed its desire to corner the facilities management business in T&T.
Another area of great concern is the possibility of outsourcing the sanitation functions of the Port of Spain andSan Fernando City Corporations, by retrenching the workers and handing over the function to contractors. Port of Spain mayor Lee Sing has been very supportive of this thrust.
The public health sector has already been infiltrated by private capital and much of its functions
are being contracted out to the tune of millions and millions of dollars of our hard earned money. While working people and the poor scramble to get proper health care in public health institutions, businessmen/doctors see the public health care system as their personal hog trough.
The National Workers Union warns the country that privatisation will lead to increased foreign control of the economy and will cause massive job losses and bring hardship on the working class.
The National Workers Union urges the trade union movement and the workers of the country to recognise the great threat to job security posed by the government’s privatisation policy and to organise themselves to resist and push back this policy or the working class will eat the bread that the devil knead.
The National Workers Union repeats its calls made on February 9th 2012 and April 20th 2012 for the convening of an all union Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch Officers (COSSABO) to “discuss the implications of the government’s privatisation thrust and to make recommendations on how to beat back and defeat that policy.”
19th June 2012