The Union frequently comments on events or receives news of general interest and these are documented on this page.
News & Comment
I have no problems with Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Roger Samuel calling some of the former Black Power detainees, heroes.
However, I have a big problem with the government that he represents for threatening Ancel Roget, the President General of the OWTU with legal action. Celebrating Black Power while trying to destroy the OWTU is a contradiction!
The OWTU was central to the Black Power Movement. The OWTU bore the brunt of the government’s onslaught against the union when it raided Paramount Building, took away union records and detained several of its members, including George Weekes. I also have a big problem with folks like Daaga, Kambon and the rest of “sellouts” who remain silent rather than come to the defense of the OWTU.
The OWTU became a refuge for many of them when they were in the
political wilderness. The OWTU gave them jobs and all types of financial assistance. Now that they are “eat ah government food and drink ah government juice”, these so-called Black Power heroes have refused to come to Roget’s defense.
These Black Power heroes are content to live on nostalgia while the working class and working people are suffering under a government that subscribes to IMF policies that NJAC once challenged. They are no longer challenging the IMF because they have sold their souls for positions like “Ambassador Plenipotentiary.”
Today they are being called heroes by the representatives of the ruling class who have “smashed their brains in” with the Neo-liberal baton. Today they are being celebrated by the representatives of the ruling class who violently destroyed the movement. Today they are being celebrated by the representatives of the ruling class who want to destroy the OWTU in particular, and the trade union movement in general.
Based on complaints from a wide cross-section of workers in the health care system our involvement in the Regional Health Authorities was guided by a basic tenet that health care workers needed their own organization much like the various protective services and other professional bodies such as teachers.
What incensed our sense of justice was management’s plantation style approach to labour, complemented by a blasé, vociferous, unstructured response by the purveyors of industrial relations. As a result, according to a senior worker, over the years workers were left battered, bruised and bewildered.
Some left a system that massaged foreign health care workers but treated them as second class workers; some are treated like indentured labourers who must survive from contract to contract.
Others, with no alternative at their disposal, simply go through the motion of earning a living. Meanwhile, management, as to be expected, sees no need to change the culture into a professional one.
Management, seemingly as ignorant of twenty first century industrial relations as their overseer in the Ministry of Health relies, in its relationship with its workers, on a mishmash of thirty year old memoranda that was issued for the guidance of public officers (which RHA employees are not), public service handbooks, SWRHA manuals, ancient letters and instructions the origin of which nobody can trace.
The nonsense which passes for industrial relations throughout the RHA system was exemplified by the attack launched by the Minister of Health last Christmas on nurses’ commitment to their patients - the same seemingly bipolar politician who in one breath threatens to close down hospitals, fire local nurses and import thousands of foreign nurses and in another breath talks about giving them housing allowances and praising them to the skies for their dedication.
But what do you expect from an individual who wanted to be minister of health in the morning and millionaire surgeon in the evening. To make matters worse, Dan Mahabirsingh, an NCRHA reject, was put in charge of Industrial Relations and in a few short months, he has totally destabilised the relationship between employer and employee. He has upset shift arrangements that have been in place for years and is trying to force an eight hour cycle into a seven day week. Overtime pay arrangements have all gone to hell under his watch and he has now issued instructions that no union representatives will be given time off with pay to handle workers’ grievances.
This industrial relations “expert” does not seem to know that every worker has the right to raise grievances with their immediate supervisor in the first instance and if there is no accepted dispute handling procedure (which the NHWU has proposed and from which he keeps ducking) a normal part of which is that union reps be afforded time off with pay to handle said grievances, he is laying the foundation for anarchy and wildness in the employer-employee relationship.
But then what can you expect of an individual whose attitude towards the union reeks of discourtesy through slow responses to agreed upon disclosures, the switching of meeting places at the last minute and a refusal to deal in an equitable manner with the NHWU.
He should take note of the old creole saying who doh hear go feel!
Workers of Tube City IMS Limited, a firm contracted to Arcelor Mittal, one of the leading steel conglomerates in the world, staged a protest at the Point Lisas roundabout on Tuesday April 14th 2015.
In this twentieth century with laws that gives workers the right to join any union of their choice this capitalist Canadian with those words has placed over 200 citizens of this country on the bread line: single mothers, sole bread winners; workers with 25 to 30 years service.” The Union President vowed to fight with all their strength until the workers are re-employed.
Branch President Anthony Charles of the representing Steel Workers' Union spoke to Comrade Rae Samuel of the National Workers Union (see video)
They peddled the vulgar fiction and fraud called the PP as the solution to our economic, political, social, health, security, cultural and all other problems, including acne, just like the other snake-oil salesmen, 'bush doctors' and 'healers' who regale us daily with like promises.
My comrades, and like minded patriots, identified their offer for what is was then, and still is now, and we denounced and rejected it. We made clear we would not support that pick-up side and any leadership comprising known anti-worker, ethnic chauvinist, caste-motivated, closet-Nazi types like Kamla (who did not support the CCJ because its first bench had no "Indian" judge on it).
We predicted that they, MSJ and Daaga included, would betray the people and ensure that they, their inner circle 'cabal' and friends, would enrich themselves by 'eating ah food' at taxpayers expense like swine in a feeding frenzy at a hog trough called the public purse.
They would advance and defend the interests of transnationals, big business and anything that would keep working people and other citizens in the same place Manning's PNM had kept us.
We rejected the call to "sleep" with any coalition of political crapauds and prostitutes hastily cobbled together to remove the PNM at any cost because under the present political system there is no true democracy.
For those old enough to recall, long ago if you “make a fairs” you would make a trip down Wrightson Road. by the 'dongs tree' to deal with what is now referred to as an acute case of STD.
Objectively, only one party was really on the ballot paper in 2010 - the UNCOPNMSJ. It’s six of one; half a dozen of the other, no matter who you vote for. None of them would act to change the game! Of course, ours was a minority and unpopular position but proven correct in time.
Soon as they came to power they began to PP on us, starting with the renege on the promise to pay all pensioners $3000/ monthly, then the Gopaul/NP contract scandal, then Reshmigate, then…ad nauseam!
The elections are coming again and once more the real question to be addressed by patriotic citizens is: who will acquire power, in whose interests will it be wielded and how can we, the, citizens make power accountable to us, no matter who wields it, whether its President, Chief Justice, PM, AG, Speaker of the House, MP, Minister, CDS, Ag. Cop, Perm. Sec. or any other officials we give power to.
That is the elephant in the room, the real issues to be dealt with, and some people will continue to see, hear, speak and write about anything else but this reality. They will continue to deny this reality and avoid the demand for action which confronting this question forces all patriots to face. CLR James said 'if you don't change the rules, the rules will change you’!
We must find ways to make ourselves ' rule changers'.
United States Under Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson said recently that she feels disappointed by the large Latin American rejection of the sanctions imposed by the US against Venezuela and said that such sanctions sought not harm the Venezuelan people and the entire government of Caracas.
She admitted that the matter evokes historical differences between her country and Latin America, which she declined to specify, but it is an unambiguous reference to the traditional policy of Washington against the rest of the continent: its support and promotion of reprehensible dictatorships, military invasions of sovereign nations, inveterate plundering of natural resources and constant interference in the internal affairs of countries of the subcontinent; the latest chapter is precisely the set of statements and hostile measures of the White House to Caracas.
As you may recall, last March 9 President Barack Obama called the South American country an extraordinary and unusual threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.
He ordered a blockade of Venezuelan accounts and banned from entering US territory seven officials of the Nicolás Maduro government. In response to such nonsense either because there is no concrete facts that the Government of Caracas somehow could threaten the security of the superpower, individual governments and regional bodies such as the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) criticized the actions of Washington and called on Obama to repeal them.
If the State Department’s Roberta Jacobson, can call herself surprised at the strength and unanimity of the Latin American response, this can only be explained by the neglect of US diplomacy towards the region in the last two decades.
Indeed, until late last century such a reaction would have been unthinkable, but from then until today processes have developed in the southern portion of the continent that vindicate national sovereignty and regional integration and have transformed paradigms.
Latin American governments which have turned their back on these processes such as those in: Mexico, Colombia and Peru, instead, have persisted in maintaining the traditional political, economic and diplomatic subordination to the power of the North.
Now Washington meets previously unthinkable continental realities that make an attempt to isolate one of their peer countries to subdue it through financial and even military means, or by the active support to internal sedition, as US has been doing increasingly in Latin America with governments that stand for sovereignty and social transformation.
The US effort against Venezuela is even more bizarre, If you consider that the White House has just taken concrete steps towards détente with Cuba, on which for half a century it has maintained an implacable economic blockade, a policy of constant harassment, and even an active support to terrorist groups of anti-Castro exiles.
Regardless of the posture adopted about the tense political situation in Venezuela, no government in Latin America can, without blushing, agree with the nonsense expressed a month ago by Obama, among other reasons, because it is clear that things are exactly the opposite: it is Washington that threatens the national security of Venezuela, and its active belligerence of supporting Maduro`s opponents is a clear example of this.
I think the police should open their own newspaper and call it ""Police Introspection News''. There is not a form of criminal activity they have not been involved in recently. It appears that they have taken crime off the streets and put it in its rightful place…the back seat of squad cars or homes of business owners, according to them. One wonders if the person on patrol, sporting an assault rifle while giving you a ticket is indeed a police officer or a suspect in uniform?
Is it that they recruit actively in the Remand Yard or does Law Breaking 101 form part of the curriculum at the Police Academy? Or has the Burroughs model taken root and become purified in the 'service’? Randy allegedly never learnt to read and write so well but was willing to shoot like hell.
Now I am no fan of the “Beyond the Tape'' but does the poor intimidated looking host seriously raise these matters on air? I know the weekly police briefing is simply to assure us that matters are being looked into…from the wrong end of a telescope! Even as false statements are accredited to attorneys or police files going missing. In this day of external hard drives and "clouds''!
But let us not be too hard on these officers in matters of technology.. Deputy Commissioner "I don't know how to turn off my cell phone on an airplane'' showed us exactly how high the technological bar is set in law enforcement in Trinidad and Tobago. And these people want to run "Youth Clubs' where 9 years olds max out the apps on smart phones. And then get into fights on the football field and use their sirens to make 3 lanes out of 2 on narrow roads...
But even as they pursue 'market rates' for these kind of services let us not forget that there are the good ones who stay on the cases of drunk drivers, racist politicians and dead beat moms.
Keep your eyes peeled and smart phones ready, dear readers, you never know when you may have to point out a suspect/police officer in an identification parade in a criminal activity near you. Only joking, Inspector Ramesar, only joking!
With apologies to my comrades in the movement permit me to act, for the hypothetical moment, as if I were an advocate of liberal
So what have we here? Do correct me if I’m mistaken, but it seems as if one of these special groups of armed men (along with some armed women I suppose) without due authorization took to the main roads and highways of the nation and by force of arms seized a fair chunk of state power by effectively locking down the country.
It appears to me that this unsanctioned action by the coercive arm meets the basic definition of a coup, albeit a limited one. But of course having a limited coup is at the end of the day a lot like being a little pregnant.
Amazing scenes were witnessed and I indeed listened and watched in disbelief as the Minister of National Security and the top brass of the police washed their hands of it this while Sergeant Beyond The Tape and his riding pardner on national television proclaimed their grievance to the population and explained to us that this is good policing.
It kind of reminded me of something… er… Oh yes! The goodly religious gent also with grievance who also went on national television back in 1990 telling us that the government was overthrown. What really was the difference between the bodies of armed men involved except one is called “police”?
But then again I suppose this little detail makes a great deal of difference. I fear we have crossed the Rubicon and there is no going back. The entire population including a fair number of police and army now know how easy it is to lock down the country and it is really not rocket science to predict that this will happen again. And I say “again” as we can no longer say it can’t happen. It did.
Put bluntly the genie is out of the bottle, we now officially belong to that category of country where illegitimate military intervention can become the order of the day. Really! Why should we take on stupid asshole racist politicians when we have the guns? Did somebody say Banana Republic? We’ve worked hard to attain this Republican status, and we finally reach.
Farfetched? Well we are now in a position to describe specific scenarios. Suppose when (it’s no longer an “if”) this happens again it occurs on a larger more sustained scale involving the police; the government declares a state of emergency and sends in the army. Except certain elements in the army for whatever reason (and we can easily think of some) side with the police. What happens next?
Or suppose the government proclaims the electoral run-off provision and the General Election is as a result hung with the PNM in the lead. The PP claim they are still in power and seek to enforce the run-off but the PNM will have nothing of it. There are incidents of rioting and looting and the coercive arm of the state takes it upon itself to fill the power vacuum.
Well my dear friends after the limited police coup of March 23, 2015 we now have to reckon on such episodes in our political calculations.
Moreover there is precedent, genealogy and context. The precedent happened some years ago in a country close to us geographically and culturally. If my memory serves it began, like here, as a pay dispute, but with the army, involving a certain phys-ed colonel. Next thing Desi Bouterse knew (and it may not have even been his plan) he was the President of Suriname.
As for genealogy in our nationalist period we’ve had the 1970 army mutiny, 1990 attempted coup, the 2009 undeclared state of Martial Law for the Summit of the Americas, the 2011 rachify SOE by vaps, and now the 2015 limited police coup.
As for our present context we’re having the increased militarization of law enforcement involving police and army. All this while our politicians court racial polarization with Kamla’s run-off and Rowley’s kyat. Notice how our political exchange is becoming increasingly crude.
So it took a while to get here… But here we are! Now let me point out that Marxist analysis is not at all impressed with the bourgeois state and its assertions of legitimacy and law and order. Legitimacy is merely a mask for class oppression and as for law and order there is a beautiful line in the movie Syriana that says that the purpose of the law is to protect corruption.
But in this place, this graveyard of process, we can’t even get this right. And yes some see in our Trinidadian anarchy great hope for creative change: that a crisis is a possibility. But for this to happen we the people have to be ready. But what I am instead seeing is hustling and feting as we drown in the detritus of late Capitalism and go wining over the brink.
Am I growing cynical in my old age? So here we are waiting for the next shoe to drop. In whe whe terms, any number can play. As for my comrades, doh take me on…I only ackin’…But seriously – coup anyone?
“America is the Canaan of capitalism, its promised land.”
– Werner Sombart, 1906 –
Socialism, as a tangible political and economic project for organizing society, has been cast-off to the dustbin of history. According to this reasoning, it is anachronistic to speak of contemporary movements rooted in a socialist tradition. A serious consideration of non-western socialist traditions is in itself a revolutionary paradigm shift. Socialism was never simply a logic developed in the west and assigned to the rest of the world. Europe and the United States may historically have been the centers of capitalist production (and self-valorizing standards of Enlightenment and Reason), but the colonial peripheries generated enormous surplus value through forced labor and resource extraction.
Proclaiming itself as world's sentinel, the United States continues to insist that liberal-individualism and market fundamentalism is the way forward. The claims of being a beacon of democracy and peace are overshadowed by a genocidal history and an expanding military-industrial complex. A country founded on the principle of conquest in the first instance, it seems, can only be sustained if this principle becomes law and cannot be questioned.
There are numerous examples of US involvement in the overthrow of democratically elected governments, from Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala (1954) to
Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1961). The menace was socialism. The threat of democratically elected communist governments spread so fast in Latin America that Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. Secretary of State, declared that the advanced capitalist states should not “watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people” (Kissinger, Meeting of the 40 Committee, 1970).
The Latin American experience provides a tapestry for sober reflection on the past, present, and future possibilities of continental movements against capital. By the 1970's, Latin America became a laboratory for American imperialism. Ruthless dictatorships spanned the continent, with the elimination of tens of thousands of suspected left-wing activists. American presidents, like Ronald Reagan, remained committed to right-wing rebel groups in Latin America, often providing covert funding. The 12-year civil war in El Salvador sparked by the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and supported by the US military targeted union officials, clergy, and academics. The US crimes against Cuba have been well-documented.
Despite decades of US aggression in the region, socialism returned to Latin America by the turn of the 21st century. Fidel Castro fostered alliances and friendships between various leaders, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Brazil's Luiz Lula da Silva, Bolivia's Evo Morales, and Ecuador's Rafael Correa. Hugo Chavez looked to Simon Bolivar, the great liberator of South America from Spanish rule, for developing his indigenous socialism.
The resurrection of the democratic left in Latin America, despite Yankee intervention, remains a political force to reckon with. Many of these leaders and intellectuals are seeking innovative approaches to socialism as a practical means of improving the conditions of their respective societies. Socialism, as a philosophy that seeks to democratize resources, provides substantial tools for understanding the world, but also never accepted as a universal category. These tools are constantly refined in the flames of struggle.
Non-western socialism comes in many shades. It is a narrative that begs us to widen our lens for envisioning revolutionary movements that are not only against local conditions of oppression and exploitation (nationalist), but also internationalist to the core – a fundamental critique of western modernity, colonial morality, and imperial ambitions.
The movement of capital relations across the globe ossified social hierarchies along racial, gender, and religious categories. Identifying the detrimental effects of such categorization and sub-alternization are some of the defining intellectual contributions of non-western socialists. The injection of local cultures and histories impacts how an epistemology is interpreted and employed. How can a national liberation struggle for self-determination also become a revolutionary movement for the abolishment of private property? In the case of Cuba, both stages were a part of the socialist project.Fidel Castro identifies as a nationalist socialist. The socialism of darker nations could not afford the luxury of dogma. The socialist insistence on materialism contributed to an existing politics of resistance that derived from multiple histories. In the context of Latin America, the 'nature of the revolution' has been a central theme in discussions of indigenous socialism. How can socialist revolution take place in a particular space, given its own historical and socio-economic contradictions?
This organic sense of a malleable socialism allows us to engage with history as a creative and collective process. The leaders of national liberation struggles constantly questioned the ‘nature of the revolution’ because of their shifting circumstances. These populist struggles maintained a devotion to uplifting the most oppressed and marginalized members of society. For example, Liberation Theology, which became a relevant conflagration throughout Latin America, advocated for a fundamental shift in socio-economic relations of production (Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist"). In addition, the peasantry was considered an integral part of capitalist production and critical in the process of revolutionary change.
What historical lessons can be drawn from the success and failures of these revolutionary shifts in Latin America? How has the nature of the revolution evolved in Latin America? Do the failures of state capitalism (as CLR James recalled Soviet Russia) signal the end of socialism? What does a “real” revolution look like? How revolutionary can a revolution be? The progressive elements and successes of Latin America's socialist turn cannot be denied, but the shortcomings of individualistic power struggles and the futility of achieving socialism through the bourgeois state are stubborn knots to be unraveled for the success of future struggles against capital.
The failures of the Latin America's “pink tide” provide gaps for critical insight. The modern state is a bourgeois political association that assumes legitimacy by claiming a monopoly on violence. The classic definition of a state is provided by Max Weber: “a state is a human community that successfully claims monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” Latin America is no exception. Violence and coercion are integral to the project of modern state formation. State sovereignty rests on the organized domination of the material forces of production necessary for mobilizing physical force. The right to use physical force exists only to the extent that the state allows it.
The teleology of modern states must be understood outside the bounds of liberal tolerance and political dogma. The contradictions inherent to socialist revolutions of 19th and 20th centuries operated within a world order determined by capitalist relations. Capitalist modernity invokes repressive violence as a necessary socio-political phenomenon. The complexity of war and the politics of violence allow for the primacy of state policy, establishing violence as a decisive, often rationalized as necessary, means for political legitimacy. Positivism and Absolutism are configured into the formulation of the state at inception.
Today, the spectres of socialism and revolution are haunting Latin America once again. Citizens demand accountability from their democratically elected governments. These progressive developments and inspiring social movements, over the past two decades, point us toward a new horizon for revolutionary change. Cuba and Venezuela are the heart of this tectonic shift.
The days of Henry Kissinger’s foreign policy diagnosis for Latin America are finished. The lapdogs of imperialism can no longer orchestrate sinister coups and implement exploitative policies in Latin America for the sake of profit, while crushing popular dissent with an iron fist.
The failure of ‘free trade’ agreements, initiated by Western ex-colonial powers, establishes a new precedent for fighting capital on a global scale. How did we become patriotic soldiers with a duty toward the state? A deeper, historical understanding of non-western movements against capital, like the recent revolutions in Latin America, may help us navigate the inherent contradictions of the modern state, sail toward action, and slowly unravel the beast:
The Credit Union Bill 2014 and the Co-operatives Societies Amendment Bill 2014' were supposed to be tabled in the Senate on that day.
Members and leaders of the Credit Unions, among them Joseph Remy, President of the Credit Union League and Vice President Desmond Baxter, agreed that the People's Partnership administration must be mad or desperate to make such a move 9 days after the debacle of February 2nd's "Night of the Long Knives'.
The effects of The Credit Union Bill 2014 and the Co-operative Societies Amendment Bill are destructive to the Co-operative credit union movement. If these bills are passed into law ordinary citizens and persons of modest means will not have a say in their economic destiny and we will see the elimination of small, medium and community based credit unions
The bills will prevent you, the ordinary member from becoming a director or a member of the supervisory and credit committee because it requires you to possess very stringent academic qualifications.
The bills will now impose severe, stringent and excessive reporting requirements to the Central Bank, which will swamp credit unions with administrative costs. They also restrict the type of business activities that your credit union can participate in, thus reducing the possibility for your credit union to earn surplus for distribution among you the members. This will reduce or eliminate the payment of dividends.
The bills will impose high court action against board and committee members.
The bills give the central bank through an inspector the powers to vary, restrict and revoke the operating certificate of a credit union; dissolve the board of directors of a credit union and voluntarily wind up a credit union
The bills treat credit unions like banks where they would now be required to have limits on lending and investments and have stringent capital adequacy requirements. This is inappropriate and would inhibit the growth of existing credit unions and prevent the start-up of new credit unions.
The bills will drive credit unions away from their ideological imperatives towards a more commercial/corporate orientation. This will destroy the co-operative principles that provide the foundation for the sustainability of the co-operative movement. This will be the most severe impact on this indigenous, noble, people centered movement.
Those of us who know how animals are fed on a farm will remember that the centerpiece is the trough. Food by the bucketful is emptied in the middle part of the trough and the pigs will grunt and snort, using their size to put their snout into the largesse. If you pay attention one will notice that the skin and rejected parts end up at the end of the trough. If any discards fall to the ground the chickens will clamber over each other to get enough to survive.
When a political party wins an election in our neck of the woods they know they have earned the right to automatically position themselves at the centre of the trough. History shows us that within two to three years the norm is to establish an enterprise that enables the goodies to flow.
Here are some examples: a Toco retreat and resort beach front; a restaurant in the St Ann’s area; or it could be as subtle as letting your husband be the receiver of some juicy contracts; or it could be as bold-face as when a senior parliamentarian considered people rats for objecting to a substantial pay and pension increase; and the feeding goes on.
It gravitates to a city councilor becoming very indignant and making a public hue and cry about not getting the perks others received. No wonder there was venom and malevolence aplenty towards Patrick Manning when he called an early election and lost the ability to continue feeding at the trough.
So what is this present imbroglio really about? Its rationale is simply damage control; hoping that the people will accept that the Prime Minister is strong, courageous and looking after the public’s interest. They are all trying to score points against each other. Present yourself as lily-white, god-sent Samaritans while all others are anti-people, corrupt and incompetent.
One side trying to force a new mandate and the other stalling for time to dazzle the population with smoke and mirrors and we, the chickens or sheep, must accept the crumbs. This situation has to end but the present crop of governors is in a feeding frenzy. They don’t realize that inequality stalks the land and it is this growing inequality which will finally change our society.