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TIWU Will Not Tolerate Treatment of Migrant Workers

posted 15 Oct 2009, 00:53 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 16 Oct 2009, 17:26 by National Workers Union ]
The Transport and Industrial Workers’ Union (TIWU) is appalled by the treatment meted out to the workers of the Chinese Construction Company Beijing Luijan.

These migrant workers live under inhumane conditions and are ruthlessly exploited by their employers with the silent connivance of the government of Trinidad and Tobago.

When the workers who claim they have not been paid for months and who actually had to pay the company to secure work in T&T, protested, quite rightly, for their money riot police were summoned to terrorise and intimidate them for claiming their entitlement.

TIWU is mindful of our history of slavery and indentureship where our ancestors came to a strange land, unable to speak the language, were forced to live in barrack-like conditions and to work long hours for little or no compensation. Are we going back to the days of indentureship? The only thing that is different is that the Chinese migrant workers live, not in barracks, but in containers and concentration camps.

Imagine these atrocities are taking place under the watch of the Manning regime with a Minister of Labour who seems to have neither power nor influence to ensure that the laws of T&T are complied with. We, in T&T, including in the labour movement, have remained silent for too long.

When the Chinese migrant workers laboured like dogs to complete the Tranquillity school on time they were held up as models for local workers. Who cared that their conditions of work were slavery-like. The attitude is work hard, shut your mouth and take whatever we feel to give you.

TIWU calls on the government the Minister of Labour, to intervene in a firm manner to stop this blatant exploitation of labour and to ensure that these workers receive their entitlements. The decent work agenda to which the government purports to subscribe demands no less. The International Labour Organisation should investigate this matter closely

TIWU calls upon the government to review all contractors with Chinese firms and ensure that the workers they bring in this country are treated like human beings and afforded conditions no less advantageous than that enjoyed by workers of T&T.

It seems that the atrocious treatment of the Chinese migrant workers is the model that the government wants to use to suppress the workers of PTSC, WASA, TSTT and other state enterprises. If we allow them to continue the ruthless exploitation and suppression of migrant workers, then how can we argue when they treat us in the same way? We will not tolerate it.
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