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News & Comment

The Union frequently comments on events or receives news of general interest and these are documented on this page.

OF PETROBAKSH, JAMETTRIE AND SCANDAL by Rae Samuel

posted 19 Sep 2017, 10:34 by Gerry Kangalee

...and in news from the energy sector, which drives the political sector and selections, the leader of the government has responded to allegations concerning the production of rubbing alcohol at the PetroBaksh…sorry…Petrotrin oil refinery at Point a Pierre.

The refinery has been re-configured to produce products which would disappear like these spirits between the production fields and the refinery only to turn up later on the Company books. What a way to reduce transportation costs!

Suggestions that his close personal friendship with the principals of the A.V company may be clouding his judgement and compromising his position as a national leader, drew the following response from the PM, "Being a friend means $omething''. Please note that this same leader was telling women in the country that they were responsible for who was in their Boardrooms...ah…sorry...bedrooms.

PNM Party groups are organising Thanksgiving services for the sunset clauses in the Anti-gang legislation

The political leader of the Opposition responded by saying that the gentleman in question knew very well what was happening and should launch an enquiry. He in turn launched into a tirade which one thought reflected his linguistic roots as well as his professional training when he accused her of ''jamettrie''.

Referrals to Shamfa Cudjoe, Morgan Job, the Mighty Shadow and the eminent Tobagonian linguist, Winford James, immediately cleared up this 'double entendre.' It was a reference to her social and political persona not right angles and quadrilaterals. Apparently that is how enraged Rottweilers sound in 'Mason Hall' (pronunciation at your discretion).

Some female opposition figures have accused the gentleman of degrading women. None of Anika Gumbs. Penelope Beckles or Marlene Mc Donald could be reached for comment. Some wags are saying Marlene could be quicker reached for comess. Anyway, in PNM circles the shoo shoo is that Marlene is going to oppose the Rott in the next election for political leader.

Meanwhile doubles and roti vendors across the country are up in arms and aloo at the sudden change in eating habits of the leadership of JTUM. It seems that they have reached an agreement with the ruling Party to re-join the National Tripartite Advisory Council.

Rumour has it that calypsonian Baron will be asked to perform his classic "He lick she'' at the renewal of their vows. In this kaiso, a woman is gettin' licks in the road and telling a policeman “Doh interfere" The other members of the JTUM leadership declined Watson's request to hold the re-engagement ceremony at Toco beach.

The vendors are asking what about all that talk about eating doubles and roti to impact the 1% and the planned drawing up of a list of business places to be boycotted. What the vendors belatedly realised was that all those visits to the Breakfast shed, which is adjacent to the Hyatt, was to put our esteemed leaders within sniffing distance of the Hyatt's kitchen. And we will be reading about Jenny again since these 'comrades' may have saved her job.

Richmond Motors Ltd reportedly sent a memo to a leading union in South saying that curry does stain BMW real bad after servicing one of the Union's luxury vehicles and finding 'channa' in the glove compartment. But isn’t the agent for BMW, Richmond Motors, part of the ANSA-MCAL group? And doesn’t the group belong to the 1%...look I getting confuse yes…

As we wrap up this news summary we would like to comment on a story by a leading political commentator that there has never been a scandal in the OWTU. Some might say then that Errol McLeod never ran for and won leadership of the Union or that the present President General never worked at Trinmar but...

Why am I dealing in fake news, you may ask? Well I just following the example of the new and improved Guardian newspaper. If the 1% could play, who is me?

Stay tuned!

Hol' Yuh Han' By Peter Garvey

posted 18 Sep 2017, 12:49 by Gerry Kangalee

Moratorium is just a fancy word for "delay". So when that word was used as the headline in the Guardian (dated 14/09/2017) and I saw various Union leaders under that picture, I was of course compelled to read with intense interest.

The Union Leaders came out of a meeting with the Prime Minister on 13/09/2017 and apparently had a "successful" meeting with the Prime Minister. Amendments to the Retrenchment and Severance Benefit Act and the Company's Act are to "be brought urgently" to Parliament; that was one of the agreements coming out of the meeting. Another agreement coming out of the meeting, is that a hold on retrenchment of workers in workplaces "under Government control", will be in force up to December 31st, 2017. What?!?

Ancel Roget has been reported in the Guardian as saying that this "moratorium" on job cuts premised their return to the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC). How does this benefit workers? To tell you the truth I do not know or give a rat’s rectum. Because how the HELL you can go into a meeting as a representative for workers and their rights and negotiate a finite delay in job cuts just to get back on a "Council" that has never worked in any incarnation in any Government Administration. Yuh mad?!?

If this strategy is anything like the proposed list of business owned by the 1% it has already failed. Trinidad & Tobago have grown weary of the empty threats and "grand charge" of the Labour Movement under the leadership of Errol McLeod, James Lambert, Michael Annisette and Ancel Roget. They will be disrespected yet again and no hell will break loose. The workers will continue to exist in a hell organized by Government and the private sector whose fires are fuelled by the egoistic ineptitude of Trade Union leaders whose interest seems to be more about their personal legacy than the workers interest.

We just got sold down the river Comrades. If we do not organize ourselves, if within our workplaces we cannot find better leaders to stand behind, our pipe that the crapaud will be smoking will be sold to him by our "representatives" who will use our indifference and indolence as their permission to do so.

This is what we must do to go: FORWARD EVER!!! BACKWARD NEVER!!

Corruption…What Corruption? by Joanne Viechweg

posted 17 Sep 2017, 20:05 by Gerry Kangalee

An action can only be deemed corrupt if it occurs within a system/environment that is virtuous. We will continue to hear of the unethical behaviour of many of our politicians simply because they operate within a system that was crafted to facilitate unethical practices. It was and still is the colonial way. Those at the ‘top’ rape and plunder the resources of the land and the people over whom they govern. It is as simple as that. 

Until and unless that system of colonial rule changes, the continual interchange of red for yellow, balisier for rising sun, African for Indian would make no difference in terms of governance, behaviour in public office and/or perceptions of equal justice meted out among citizens of all strata of society.

So what do we then do, or, much better expressed in our beautiful Trinbagonian dialect “so wha we go do?” The answer lies with us - not the politicians. They are merely reflections of who we are at this stage of our development.

Can any of us truthfully state that we are so different from the Rowleys, Persad-Bissessars, Ramlogans? Their “corrupt” acts are more visible because they are public figures but are many of us not guilty of the same or similar levels of dishonesty in our day to day living? How often do we misrepresent ourselves to achieve some desired outcome? How often do we ‘borrow’ and promise to repay but never do? We must decolonise our thinking if we are to realise any significant change within the status quo.

It is unrealistic to expect the politicians to change the very system that continues to support their lavish lifestyles. The change that we seek as a nation must first originate at an individual level and then radiate among the masses. As we change and engender our youth accordingly we then will produce the type of individuals with the will to change the politics.

It will be a long journey though. The fruition of which none of us alive today is likely to witness. Our grandchildren and future generations will reap the benefits. Are we prepared to put in that work of self-analysis and self-reconstruction to really create a higher social order for the children’s sake?

Some propose that we mobilize ourselves and show our displeasure through marches, protest action or even armed rebellion. While all of those actions will effect change in the short term they are not likely to support many (or any) sustainable benefits. It would simply be putting another plaster on the sore. Isn’t it time we begin to heal the wound?

This kind of individual growth such that I am proposing is not something which can be enforced by anyone. It has to be a personal decision and/or awareness which would stem from one’s own evolutionary process. Pointing fingers is easy and we’ve learned to do that so very well. The choice is ours really; do we remain victims of the politicians and their poly-tricks or do we begin to take responsibility for our destiny. The beat goes on…..

Ase.

WILL COLM GET HIS RIOT? By Rae Samuel

posted 12 Sep 2017, 10:14 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 12 Sep 2017, 10:26 ]

Viscosity is defined as the measure of a body's resistance to flow. Some of us, car owners for example, check the viscosity of our engine oils in layman's terms. When it begins to lose its viscosity, we change it since it can no longer adequately protect our engine parts.

What, dear readers, you may be asking, has piqued my interest in petroleum engineering? Do I want to go work in our aging oil refinery? Nope! Do advertisements for NP? Nah! Serve on some committee to review Petrotrin's options? Even if I were, the professional 'Board-ers' from the labour movement have sewn up that market.

I was just wondering what were the properties of the oil in the $100m dry hole that A&V Drilling is reported to have struck. Yes, I know the late Malcolm J must be smiling in his grave seeing that some the best practices he adhered to during his chairmanship are being maintained; that he was not expecting such a glorious tribute to his legacy so soon after his passing. A&V drilling seems to have pulled of a remarkable "Hustle and non-Flow''.

The (sick) joke is that this kind of rip-off has been taking place since the early 
Image result for owtunineties, when the lease operatorship and farm out programmes were launched. The Oilfields Workers Trade Union has been raising the issue of rip off and corruption in these programmes for years. Ancel Roget has been quoted as saying: “The OWTU has consistently raised the issue of corruption with the lease operators, the farm out programme and the contracting of and giving away of lucrative wells.

“We raised that issue prior to the United National Congress (UNC) coming into office, when Malcolm Jones (then Petrotrin president) was there. We raised it when the UNC were there and we raised it again under the PNM. It is just a matter of which party is in power and which corrupt contractor and contract lease arrangement benefits that party. So now it is benefitting the PNM, before it was benefitting the UNC and the PNM before and so on.”


This, my dear, friends, comrades and detractors, is the brave new world of privatisation, which bone-headed academics and spokespeople for capitalism still see as the panacea (snake oil) for all ills, even in the face of the CLF Ponzi scheme and the exposure of the international banks and investment houses as the modern day pirates who always “rob I”.

Not that this practice of drilling into the national treasury is new. Just, it seems, that A&V is a wildcat, a maverick, a J.R. Ewing come lately, since none of the political majors, who usually broker such deals want to acknowledge his acquaintance with them.

Poor Nazim Baksh, CEO of A&V, all of a sudden nobody knows his name, although in 2012 Keith Rowley then Leader of the Opposition was the only parliamentarian attending the finals of Mastana Bahar in Penal, on the invitation of one of the show’s sponsors…Nazim Baksh!

Not my friend, says, Franklyn Khan, the chairman of the ruling party, one of whose Senators is Allyson Baksh, the daughter of, take a bow, Nazim Baksh! Rowley was even present at Allyson Baksh’s wedding.

It is an internal affair, they say. Internal to PNM, it seems, seeing that Vidya Deokiesingh, the Petrotrin employee who the Petrotrin audit committee has pointed fingers at, as the facilitator of the great oil scam, being Petrotrin’s crude oil specialist, was the PNM candidate in the 2015 general elections who fought the Siparia seat against Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Internal indeed: reminds one of the Emile Elias matter re: Massy Communications! Though it was state funds in a State owned company, the directorship was not accountable to the State because of business rules. My blanket is mine…Your blanket is yours King Cypher sang years ago. Even if my money buys both!

Yet we thought we changed governments in 2015. Adolphus Daniell’s E Beam Interact scored $34m. with Life Sport for educational services not delivered? Kind of shifts the paradigm though. Workers at MTS work and do not get paid, even after negotiations are settled; but companies do not operate and get paid. They never get to meet the Industrial court judges. Their matters go straight to the Treasury regardless of the price of oil or natural gas. No humbug with the Ministry of Labour conciliators.

It is not hard to imagine with all this going on in the context of a looming austerity budget; the people all over the country engaging in a new level of righteous self defence; police refusing to obey orders to arrest and charge colleagues; Ministers being caught flat out lying at Parliamentary enquiries; the shift in SEA exam dates adding more pressure on students, teachers and parents; with ill Cabinet ministers ensuring that they do not die on the hospital lawn by going to St. Clair Medical facility that maybe...just maybe, Colm will get the riot he called for!

LE HUNTE = INCREASED RATES; RETRENCHMENT by Gerry Kangalee

posted 5 Sep 2017, 20:35 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 5 Sep 2017, 20:50 ]

The jhanjat over the appointment of Robert Le Hunte just confirms the glaring incompetence of the PNM administration and the suspicion that Prime Minister Rowley seems to be living in a bubble of his own making. 

Normally politicians would write their memoirs after they demit office. Before this guy sat down in the Prime Minister’s office, he published a book From Mason Hall to Whitehall. What this suggests is that becoming Prime Minister was the objective he had in mind - the be-all and end-all of his life’s work. Now that he has achieved, he is just coasting, without a clue as to what the job entails.

The Le Hunte bacchanal has generated thousands of words in the establishment press and from the Facebook Warriors. But, from the 

Robert Le Hunte

point of view of what is in the interest of the working people and the poor, I contend that most of it has missed the mark. The essential issue with Le Hunte’s appointment is not whether he was a Ghanaian citizen or what the Ghana constitution says or whether his 

revoking Ghanaian citizenship is seen as a slap in the face to the government of Ghana.

The essential issue is why has an experienced, international banker been appointed to be Minister of Public Utilities. This has nothing to

 do with income levels. Bankers and energy industry executives are the highest paid professional parasites in the land. Politicians have to make up the difference by engaging in below the table deals and splurging on public funds. Mr. Le Hunte seems quite willing to forego a bit of h

is income so that other agendas may be pursued to the benefit of finance capital both at home and abroad.

Who is Le Hunte? According to the Bloomberg web site: Mr. Robert Lennard Le Hunte, MBA, MSc (Acct.), C.A., BA (Econ) Dip. (Mgmt.) was an Executive Director at HFC Bank Ghana Limited since April 2013 and served as its Managing Director from April 2015 to August 21, 2017 and served as its Executive Director of Risk Management until April 2015. The HFC Bank is owned by Republic Bank

He was General Manager of Special Projects of Republic Bank Limited. He served as the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Barbados National Bank, Inc. (also owned by Republic Bank). He served as the Chief Executive Officer of Barbados National Bank. He was a Director of National Enterprises Limited from June 2012 until November 2013. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago and was the President of the Barbados Bankers Association. Pretty impressive, you must admit!

Image result for wasaLe Hunte’s appointment is a clear signal that working people and the poor in T&T are in for a lot more pain as the creeping austerity programme sinks its teeth deeper and deeper into our purses and wallets. It suggests that particularly WASA and T&TEC are going to be approached not as public utilities primarily in the business of providing public goods to the citizens or as T&TEC would have it providing a safe, affordable and reliable electricity supply. WASA’s web site speaks of providing a safe, reliable and efficient water supply.

I am afraid that instead of getting reliable electricity supply or an efficient water supply what Mr. Le Hunte would be interested in is the bottom line. That’s what bankers are interested isn’t it? In terms of the bottom line there are two ways these finance wizards approach the issue: cut expenses and raise rates.

The first way means that workers are going to be put into jeopardy once more. So look out for more workers joining the breadline soon, in addition to the thousands who have already been thrown on the rubbish heap. At WASA you may argue that cutting costs may mean rooting out the blatant, endemic corruption for which WASA is justly notorious.

Yeah right! How are the financiers, suppliers, contractors, friends and families of the politicians going to live?  Let’s not be foolish: corruption is the lifeblood of the economic system in T&T. Everybody benefits from it except working people and the poor (what Ancel Roget amusingly called “the balance”).

If you think I’m just talking off the top of my head because I’m a bad mind, old socialist dinosaur (which I am, as Errol McLeod once dubbed me); let us take a look at WASA. How many of us know that WASA has taken loans to the tune of US$600,000,000 from the Inter American Development Bank (IDB). Yes, six hundred million United States dollars. We all know that WASA cannot pay back that loan, so it goes on the government books, which means you and I have to pay it back.

The first tranche of the loans was US$250 million described as the largest loan to the English speaking Caribbean. It was signed in 2013. It is called the MULTI-PHASEWASTEWATER REHABILITATION PROGRAM. There are three components to the loan programme


  1. Improvement of Trinidad and Tobago’s wastewater system.

This involves the construction of two waste water treatment plants: one in San Fernando and the other at Malabar.

  1. Reorganization of WASA

  US$50 million of the loan is for the re-organization of WASA. According to the IDB, the plan is to decrease the number of employee per 1,000 connections from 12.5 in 2011 to 5.8 in 2016.” This means that more than half of WASA’s workforce in 2011 was supposed to have been eliminated by 2016. It hasn’t happened yet. Enter Mr. Le Hunte.

According to the program annex;

 

Image result for idb

2.03 This component benefits from the inputs of technical studies that focused on the preparation of a transformational analysis for WASA (i.e., including definition of critical personnel roles within WASA, optimal size for divisions and departments, and performance considerations). The activities financed through this component will include: (i) support to the implementation of transformational actions concerning the organizational structure, financing voluntary selection separation plans; and (ii) voluntary vocational training for employees accepting the separation plan.

 

3.      Institutional strengthening of WASA in wastewater management


What does this involve? Well according to the loan proposal:

 

1.5 “In addition to the foregoing, the water and sewerage sector in T&T, and more specifically WASA itself, faces several operational, financial and institutional challenges and difficulties covering its operational costs through tariffs” In plain English, the water rates are too low. It goes on to mention “the low tariff level that has not been adjusted during several years” and further, “These challenges are currently being addressed…the economic regulator has issued a new methodology that will allow WASA to update its tariffs; and WASA’s Board has approved a strategic plan to transform WASA into an autonomous commercially run company with a strong corporate governance.”  That is management jargon for privatisation.


And again; “WASA’s commercial management service needs urgent attention, as it is based on an outdated billing system installed in 1996 and on a customer database not supported by by geographical information systems.

The loan proposal goes on to state: “The operation is directly aligned to assist T&T prepare for a post-hydrocarbon economy by the reduction in subsidy transfers from GORTT to WASA and reliance on revenues from tariffs.”

It’s becoming quite clear now isn’t it, that Mr. Le Hunte has been brought in  to raise rates and eliminate labour all with an eye toward the possible privatisation of the utility?  So while we blather on about dual citizenship and Le Hunte’s integrity and all kinds of irrelevant issues, the Rowley administration is bringing down yet another hammer on working people and the poor, but, say what, in the words of the finance minister: “dey ent riot yet!”

FIVE VIEWS ON INDEPENDENCE

posted 2 Sep 2017, 11:31 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 2 Sep 2017, 12:02 ]

Kenneth Peterkin is self-employed

HAPPY DEPENDENCY 

By Kenneth Peterkin 

 

Fifty five years of independence: as a Trinidadian I should be a happy man. Sad to say I am not. With a country blessed with rich resources after 55 years my people are worse off today than when we became independent.

With the amount of wealth that this country has generated over these 55 years, our people should have been in a far better position that we are today, but we as a people never did move away from dependency.

The political leaders kept feeding the people with a dependency syndrome, while they cream of all the wealth and feed us, the working class, with enough just to survive. The heads of all the government were corrupted, and we as a people know that for a fact.

Over these 55 years no government has done anything to curb the corruption. Instead corruption has become a big business where millions are spent on inquiries and nobody housed in jail. For the amount of the people’s money that has been wasted by these governments, it's a shame today to see the poor people of this country do not enjoy a good health system. Is Panadol the poor are given for any type of complaint. The school system has problems each new term.

When one leaves school with 5 and 6 subjects one can't find a job. Public transport is in a mess and the list goes on; while all this is going on those at the top are asking for better salaries and they still thiefing big and bold as they are the law.

We, as a people, will be this way, because we are a brutal people. We know the right from the wrong, We are good on the talk show programmes and when it comes to educating the next generation we are going in that direction. We want betterment but we want somebody to do it for us. We always support the good but we always in the back. We want manna and waiting for it to come from heaven. We praying to God to make changes, but ent willing to help God.

Happy dependency!



Joanne Viechweg is Owner/Therapist at THE CENTER FOR THERAPEUTIC BALANCE

THE ILLUSION OF FREEDOM

By Joanne Viechweg


With just a few days separating Emancipation from Independence during the month of August do we as African people involve ourselves in any introspection? Do we contemplate in any serious way the degree to which we are either free or independent? Does it even matter? Is it simply ok to serve at the behest of the 1% controlling class? Are we doomed to continue as slaves for the rest of our existence on this planet? What are we doing to create a better tomorrow for ourselves and our children? These are some of the questions which must be considered if we are to progress and shape ourselves into a significant and valuable asset to this country of our birth.

It is especially important on a significant day such as Independence is to solidify your understanding of self as African Trinbagonian. When that simple conceptual image can be held understood and projected, my African family would have grown in leaps and bounds. To continue to deny the greatness of the African DNA which flows within your body chemistry is like choosing to remain hungry while present at a lavish feast held in your honour.

The time has come when we must take a critical look at ourselves, our environment and how we have been programmed to function within the existing operational system. Is it working for us? Were we meant to benefit from the social structure, the political, economic and even (or especially) the religious frameworks which bind us? Think on it…and let’s reason a bit.

For over 400 years our physical bodies were brutally bashed. The temples of our souls were demolished and shattered; our divinity tragically dislodged. That effort to keep us separate from our African majesty and wisdom has never ended and impacts my African family even more potently in the era of post emancipation.

The physical chains and beatings having been removed and stopped respectively were replaced by more pervasive means of restraint which are quite invisible and intangible but cause an individual to willingly submit to oppressive systems simply to be able to hold on to the illusion of freedom. Alas, this is what was handed to us upon our emancipation; ‘the illusion of freedom’.

Our ancestors embraced the illusion as for them it meant a reduction of the physical violence and hope of being spiritually restored sometime in the future – or so they might have thought. Looking through the rear-view mirror now we can see how the colonial masters shaped the free experience of their former slaves. We only need to revisit The Willie Lynch Letter (Lynch, 1712). http://www.itsabouttimebpp.com/BPP_Books/pdf/The_Willie_Lynch_Letter_The_Making_Of_A_Slave!.pdf

Rediscovery and reconnection with our African truth (not the myths and superstitions we’ve been told) is the way to counter the planned continuous enslavement of the African Family. Not just reconnection in terms of correcting our historical understanding of the stature we held before we were enslaved but most importantly we must re-embrace the spiritual power and wisdom that is our heritage.

African spirituality is laden with symbolic language and ritualistic behaviour patterns which were misunderstood and deemed demonic by them (slave/colonial masters). However, it is up to us now to explore the depths, the body of knowing, understanding and wisdom that supports those observable rituals and symbols, making them meaningful language. Within those depths is where our strength lies and from where victory will come.

Ase!




CHANGE OF SHIFT NOT CHANGE OF SYSTEM!

By Samuel Noel

It is called economic deprivation, it was handed down from the colonialist to the so called upper class, or privileged, who continue to carry on the legacy today.

Take for example; the minimum wage is not being paid in state owned enterprises*. Yet these items have to be fought for by the workers, who at most times are victimised. Then these matters are fought for years in the industrial court and by the time they are settled " whenver that is", many have died or are in poor health, because they couldn't afford proper health care and even when they get that money they are so far behind in time that it will take a further ten to fifteen years to catch up to where they are supposed to be today.

This is part of the plan to suppress the efforts of the workers and keep them in a wanting state so as to get more from them while paying less and having them hoping that things will get better tomorrow.

It’s like tying a carrot on a stick and placing it in front of a horse that is pulling a cart. No matter if it runs with that cart at top speed, is only the cart owner benefitting.

In the meantime, children are not able to reach their full potential educationally because even though Daddy is supposed to afford because he is skilled, certified and qualified, the children are stagnated and left to delinquency and crime.

So the police service benefits, the prisons benefit, the minister or his friends open a security firm and benefit, high crime rate in the area will lower property value and cause residents to sell out and move out to a housing estate that the system built, and the same ministers and their REAL ESTATE friends benefit.

In the meantime the working class citizen, due to stress and worrying, can’t get the much needed sleep to regulate his brain to improve his productivity, his creativity and for his self balance. Therefore he loses his fighting spirit and is submissive to anything Massaboss says and the boss ends up with some very loyal workers who will sell out anyone who speaks of resistance, because Massaboss to him seems like the only one who can keep his family secured.

Our ancestors went through this and the game has changed but the agenda stays the same from chattel slavery to mental slavery. Control the mind and control the body!

We can march for the next four hundred years, unless the right set of people or their loved ones don't get a taste of the workers’ bitterness, nothing will change. Are we independent?

Fifty five years of change of shift not change of system!


Laurence Brown is a former president of the Communication Workers Union


WE DID NOT WIN INDEPENDENCE 

By Laurence Brown 



It has long been recognized by many of us in TnT that whilst on 31st August 1962 the Union Jack was lowered and the red white and black hoisted in place, what effectively took place was the British Colonial Master going through the motions of dumping its now expensive to maintain Colonies one by one.

The people of Trinidad and Tobago never fought for and thereby never won independence. Following the demise of the West Indies Federation Eric Williams, fully aware of the British machinations, proceeded on the path of so-called Independence.

In effect Trinidad and Tobago was GRANTED Independence with certain conditions which included responsibility for our own financial/economic future, loyalty to the Queen via the Commonwealth, keeping intact and maintenance of all the governmental institutions put in place by the British colonial master, a Regiment and a number of other vestiges of colonialism which are still very much with us.

It must be noted as the colonial power, Britain had only one use for countries like Trinidad and Tobago throughout its empire and that was to extract raw material and exploit people (Slavery/Indentureship) for the purpose of building the mother country.

To do so they put systems in place for that purpose and that purpose only; systems which we were made to keep in place and to which we still hold on to dearly, e.g. system of Governance, Structure of our Society, Education System etc. all of which we still hold on to as our own and for which we are now reaping the whirlwind.

Tony Bedassie is a Petrotrin worker



REFLECTIONS 

By Tony Bedassie 


It was the foundation laid by labour leaders like Tubal Uriah Buzz Butler, Adrian Cola Rienzi, Captain Arthur Andrew Cipriani which led to an awakening of our people. This led to the thrust for home rule which culminated in our gaining independence from the crown on this day in 1962.

So much has happened since then. Post-independence, citizens of the country grew quickly disenchanted with the leadership and direction of the country. Their expectations of economic prosperity under home rule was just not being realised quickly enough; so much so that our first prime minister the late Dr. Eric Williams actually attempted to resign from leadership of his party and government. The economy was suffering much as it is now, from low oil prices.

Prior to 1970, activists such as Basdeo Panday, Makandal Daaga, Clive Nunez and others, in keeping with the drive for civil rights in the USA, began agitating against the government. A unity began forming which led to the black power movement and subsequent riots in 1970.

At that time the army was called out to quash the resistance and Raffique Shah and Rex Lasalle together led a mutiny at the Teteron barracks, refusing to take up arms against the citizenry in defiance of the government. The coast guard was called in and they actually began shelling the barracks during which time, one soldier was killed.

They also blew up the bridge leading out of Chaguaramas in order to keep the soldiers from reaching Port of Spain where they intended to join up with civil rights protesters. The rebellion was basically crushed however, resistance fighters identifying themselves as NUFF continued guerrilla warfare for some time afterwards. hiding out in the hills.

In 1976 we became a republic and thus adopted a republican constitution under which we still operate today.

1985-1986 saw people uniting in the country once more. This was a time of deep recession. An alliance of political parties led to the formation of the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) led by ANR Robinson and Basdeo Panday. The party successfully contested the general elections of 1986 delivering the greatest defeat to the then ruling PNM. NAR won the election winning 33 seats and the pnm 3.

The NAR government was forced to implement harsh socio-economic measures at that time in an attempt to restore the economy. A split occurred within the government and Basdeo Panday broke away with his mp's to form CLUB 88 from which the now UNC was born.

1990 saw the Jamaat al Muslimeen staging a coup in the country, taking over the then national television station and storming the red house, effectively taking over the parliament and holding the representatives present hostage. The coup eventually failed with the Muslimeen surrendering under an amnesty. Port of Spain was nearly destroyed, not just from the coup, but from looters. Much of it was burnt to the ground.

I take the time to reflect on some of these occurrences as a reminder to us of our history. As we see once again high levels of social unrest developing within the country, stemming from harsh governmental socio-economic policies, let us be cognisant of the fact that we have been there before. The warning signs are there. All that's needed now is a spark. Long live our independent republic of Trinidad and Tobago!

TRADE UNIONS MUST DEMAND CLICO/CLF ANSWERS by Henry Hilton

posted 30 Aug 2017, 09:11 by Gerry Kangalee

The Prime Minister (PM) says that the most difficult challenge facing the government at this time is finding the money to pay workers. I am absolutely staggered. How can this be the case when 500 million dollars a year is going begging and we are provided no explanation? The PM himself has told us that no interest is charged on the money advanced to CLICO/CLF. In that case, please do something about it, and do it now.

CLICO/CLF must surely be the biggest issue for the unions at this time. There are so many troubling questions.

Why are the PM and Minister of Finance allowed to say that workers must suffer and that there is no money when so much is outstanding from CLICO/CLF and nothing is being done to recover it?

Why have we not demanded an inquiry into how dividends have been diverted and valuable assets sold while state appointees were in charge for all these years?

Why has the board of directors of CLF not been fired? If they cannot explain where all the dividends have gone, and why, they should be talking to the Fraud Squad.

What is the government’s plan for recovering the billions, or charging some interest while any is still outstanding? Every day’s delay costs about 2 million dollars.

Are ministers so incompetent that they cannot arrive at a contract with the shareholders that will guarantee repayment of debt and/or or interest until it is paid? With all their expensive consultants, surely they can find a way.

The status quo is not an option when workers are being sent home or asked to make sacrifices.

The level of incompetence that allowed dividends to slip through their grasp is mind boggling. The failure to address how we emerge from this debacle is even worse. This is more deserving of an inquiry than even the Sea Bridge fiasco.

Why do we permit them to escape without answering some hard questions? Is it that the movement does not understand that we lose more than 500 million every year under the current arrangement? The movement is failing its members while they give the government a pass on this.

Is it that the movement and the workers do not appreciate the stark reality? I hear no noises demanding explanation or action. We’re speaking of 500 million dollars per year just in interest even before having the money returned. How much difference will that make to the budget, and to wage negotiations? The movement should be pressing the government on this every single day. They should be demanding an urgent inquiry as to how this has been so badly managed according to the account given by the PM himself.

The movement will be doing the entire country a favour by making a powerful and relentless demand for an inquiry and a rapid negotiation out of this mess.

WE CANNOT AVOID THE SOCIAL EXPLOSION By Gerry Kangalee

posted 29 Aug 2017, 07:12 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 29 Aug 2017, 07:59 ]

Regardless of his motivation; regardless of what you think of him; with his keen
sense of the use of media, Watson Duke has ensured that the Tobago sea and air bridge fiascos remain at the centre of national attention.

The sea and air bridge fiascos would have been, in the customary way, pushed to the back burner, as the next outrageous corruption leak hits the headlines. Duke’s media show has ensured that the Tobago question is not going to disappear quietly.

The sea and air bridge issue is not the essence of the matter. It is just the latest egregious example of the unequal, inequitable, asymmetrical relationship (take your pick) between Tobago and Trinidad – a relationship that has exercised the minds of Tobago patriots for more than a hundred years.

So even if the present foul up is eventually corrected, the issue of the constitutional, political, economic and social relationships between the two islands remains to be resolved. Not that I believe that party politics as we have come to know it will be part of the solution.

Whatever leads the working people and the poor to question how this country is run and in whose interest is to be welcomed. We are approaching a tipping point in T&T, just as the international capitalist system itself is approaching. We just can’t go on this way. The colonial social arrangements that we cling to are clearly no longer able to cut it. The old society is on its deathbed.

There has been a massive loss of faith in the economic and political institutions to deliver a decent quality of life, to deliver a just and equitable society. We all know it. We all are instinctively aware that as surely as night follows day a social explosion is on the cards. What we do not know is when the social explosion will come, what form it will take and what kind of new social dispensation will emerge from it.

What is clear is that cynicism and wha we go do is not going to assist in changing the society. Facebook warriors could skin and grin and adopt supercilious poses but pretending that T&T will never change is not going to derail the locomotive of social upheaval and revolutionary possibility that is speeding down the track.

There are moments in a society’s evolution when the possibility of a great leap forward presents itself. 1919, 1937, 1970 were such periods. These uprisings were clearly led by, and put forward demands that would advance the interests of, working people and the poor. There is no widely accepted leadership, today, as there was in the examples cited above.

In such a scenario, when the social explosion erupts, given the number of lethal weapons in the hands of marginalised and criminalised youth, given the deep involvement by the armed forces of the state in criminal activity, it is not difficult to imagine widespread bloodletting and the possibility of the establishment of an authoritarian regime based on the open use of armed repression.

Today, the working class movement is in a strait jacket brought about by the inept, incompetent, visionless leadership of the trade union movement which, in large measure, is more concerned with maintaining power in their individual organisations than seeking to defend, protect and advance the interests of working people and those forced into what Marx called the industrial reserve army.

The leadership of the trade union movement has become parochial and unconcerned about the hundreds of thousands of non-unionised workers who slave away day after day, night after night, under atrocious conditions for a minimum wage that could barely provide a civilised standard of living, far less a decent quality of life. According to figures supplied by the National Insurance board, in 2013 55% of national insurance contributors earned less than $5460 per month; 31% earned less than $3560 per month. This does not include the close to 150,000 people who are not on the NIS rolls. Who speaks for them?

The trade union leaderships seem no longer concerned with matters outside of the limited range of so-called “industrial relations.” For many of them, the interests of the working class do not include matters outside of the ambit of the Industrial Relations Act. It is as if workers do not exist outside of the workplace; as if working people are not concerned about housing, health, education, transportation, cultural and sporting affairs, the relationship between Trinidad and Tobago. The trade union leaderships seem quite content to cast the wider labour movement into the abyss.

The leaderships of the trade union movement, in large part, have lost the class consciousness and instinct toward solidarity with workers everywhere and not just the members of their unions. They do not seem to understand that the fate of their members is closely bound up with the eighty five percent of the workforce who have no connection with the trade union movement and who view many of the leaders of the unions as no different to the cravacious lawyers, venal bankers, eye-gouging merchants, political hustlers and professional parasites who infest the body politic of this country.

If we are convinced that a new social arrangement is in the offing, is it not incumbent upon us, as much as is possible given the prevailing situation and the resources that we have, to plunge into the whirlpool and ensure that it is branded with the image and likeness of those who have provided the corn, the meat and the grain for the consumption of those who live off the sweat of others; who appropriate the surplus value produced by the labour of others?

It is clear that for humankind to survive we must change the world. It is also clear that if we are to change the world we must first understand the world. This is where Duke’s intervention should be used as a jumping off point to gain a deeper understanding of the society in which we live: in this case the relationship between our islands.

We can no longer afford to engage in tactics that come out of the mouths of leaders while addressing the converted and not out of serious, widespread discussion, debate and consultation with the members of the unions and with peoples’ organisations.This can raise the consciousness and mobilise wide sections of working people and the poor to defend their interests against those who have screwed up the society and then try to force the people to pay for their corrupt and criminal activity. There is no other way. It is time for this shit to stop!

The fuel that will drive the social explosion is plentiful and available. "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven...” (Mark 13:32). All that is missing is the spark that will initiate the conflagration. Look sharp and get in your section!

NOT A NEW BOAT! A NEW POLITICAL SYSTEM! By Rae Samuel

posted 21 Aug 2017, 06:57 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 21 Aug 2017, 07:05 ]

"...a lot of fingers pointing 
Who's to be blamed"

Image result for cabo star
One wishes this debacle re: the hiring of the ferries for the Trinidad to Tobago run could be called a mis-step, a procedural error, a bureaucratic mix up. But that would be lying to ourselves and there are enough leaders in law, finance, politics and sport doing that to us so let us not give them a further hand.

This episode, this farce is/was a well thought-out piece of chaos, based on utter contempt for our sensibilities as a people and responsibilities as citizens.

The Minister, the Port authorities, the legal minds, in full view in the media, fed us a mishmash of statements, assurances, pledges, timelines, all consistently buttressed by apologies and affirmations from the Cabinet. So the truckers, the travelling public, the inter island commercial traders are in fact worse off after the departure of the Superfast Galicia.

Media reports suggest that technical evaluations of the vessel screamed that it was unsuitable. Yet somehow it was reportedly within two days of going into service. Are we being told that the owners of the vessel were within two days of pulling off a scam? Remember the date for the beginning of the service was being constantly revised.

There is no point asking for accountability. Ask Ish, Steve, Carlos, Kwei Tung, Lawrence Duprey, Shamfa and Camille. The owners of the vessel are again reportedly looking at their legal options. Makes one think of a rapist making a fuss because the crime was made difficult for him to carry out and now he is less than pleased.

Minister Sinanan will continue to hold office. He is in the Mario Sabga-Aboud mould. One of those who come into office from the shadows and is seemingly not held to account by the Prime Minister. Marlene did considerably less and she lasted two days. She did not cost us any money this time around either but she is gone.

So school is about to re-open, this is the high point of the Tobago tourist season, demand for goods and services are at a peak this time and we end up with apologies and a leaky vessel. But the search resumes for a suitable replacement vessel.

But we know the search we need to embark on is for a suitable replacement political system and culture and no one but ourselves can conduct. Well meaning pressure groups call for resignations but we have had resignations since the time of Patrick Solomon when he crossed the line as Minister of Home affairs to release a relative from a jail cell. Tobago I’m sorry, intones the Prime Minister. Take that to the travel agency!

Image result for rohan sinananFolks, we have to hand it to Rohan. The fellow hit a vein of form many sportsmen locally dream of but rarely achieve. Barely six months in office, he has 'sunk' the Galicia fast ferry that ran between Trinidad and Tobago, contracted a Corbeau which he may have never sailed on and almost sold us not one but two ocean dreams.

Even by PNM rich standards and legacy of corruption, Rohan may have been headed for stardom. To forever, in the folklore of the Party, be mentioned along with O'Halloran, Prevatt, Ou Wai, Calder Hart! Wow! No…not Marlene and Camille. He stormed past them real early. It’s like taking 10 wickets or scoring 200 runs on one's Test debut

True it is that those giants of misappropriation operated when we had money but that extremely casual approach to spending public funds seems a hallowed custom even today, in that organisation; whether it be for your roaming bills, your holiday travels to Tobago for one day or gifting your yes/no Foundation.

Why was it that Rohan came so close but did not pull off the scam? It seems somebody in the Port Authority’s kitchen could not take any more of the heat being stoked by Kirk Waithe and Mark Bassant. Unlike the old days paper trails are electronic and information easier to come by. The technical findings were made public just as the rust bucket was about to drop anchor in the national Treasury. So some biblical right arms are being cut off...kind of give the public doggie a bone.

Why did Christian “Vemco” Mouttet get the job? Capitalists know how to make money. Dessalines, founder of Haiti, would say the European would use his countryman's corpse to balance a scale in a coffee house. If, as asked, the information had been made available under the Freedom of Information act, there would not have been need for all this expensive process. But once again, the capitalists are showing that the shortest distance between two points is a curve - money wise anyway.

But Mario and the 1% seem to be engaging in direct rule these days. Trinidad and Tobago administration-wise is lurching from mishap to disaster at a constant rate. The State, which as Fanon states, should serve to re-assure and build a sense of calm in its citizens is creating the opposite. So out comes KFC Mouttet, as a new fresh face, to carry out an “independent” investigation. The report will go to Cabinet as reports of all investigations of possible wrong doings and criminal activity should, which means we no longer have to look for a new Police Commissioner.

Will Rohan face any consequence? The goodly gentleman is a deputy Political Leader of the Party. That is a 'buy-in' job as opposed to a paying job. You finance your way into that post. So you cannot fire yourself since you own the post. Included in the package is a form of 'diplomatic immunity''. That means you are exempt from police inquiries, Cabinet or Party sanction. That is for Marlene, Rasta Fitzgerald, Shamfa and the like. As we say in the Caribbean cockroach in fowl dance!

Interestingly enough all this is happening just two weeks after the JTUM march. It is not clear what the next move from the JTUM is going to be. Clearly the ruling class feels re-assured that it can continue with its 'smoke and mirrors' approach because the one force presently able to check its excesses is stymied at the moment. One hopes it is not a Breakfast Shed vs. Hyatt Hotel moment they are having now

THE GODS OF SPORT AT IT AGAIN! by Rae Samuel

posted 15 Aug 2017, 07:55 by Gerry Kangalee

Whimsical, prankish…reminding us that whatever we imagine may not always follow the script of the gods! World's 2017: a form of redemption for some, a not too gentle reminder for others, further manifestations of change in the world of sport as there are changes in the economic and political configurations in the world.

Enter Trinidad and Tobago with one of the strangest roles, tied in with the fate of departing Usain Bolt. First off we shook up the track and field world with that golden run in the men's 4x400. The conversation was ongoing about by how much USA would win. We were dismal, for once again, one year after Rio 2016 Olympics, we looked to be heading home with one bronze medal.

The pre-conversation was about how well the British team would do after the stellar performance in 4x100m men, or how much of a threat Spain, Poland or France would be. Fortunately and wisely our quartet of Solomon, Richards, Cedenio, Gordon, were not listening much, if at all, to pre-race analysis. Richards really stepped up, Cedenio accelerated like a maxi taxi hustling in traffic and Gordon brought it home. It is the best performance ever by an athletic team. While these Games may not have the prestige of the Olympics, the performances are equally rated.

What does this is have to do with Usain? There was something called the "re-allocated medal ceremonies'' held at the Games. This was for athletes whose results were upgraded following protests or failed drug tests. In the words of Lord Seb Coe, head of the IAAF, they no longer wanted to 'hand over such medals in a car park or send them by post".

This writer has been following the reversion to calling Usain an eight time Olympic champion. There was no way that the re-allocation ceremony for our 4x100m quartet from London 2012 was going to be held then: that would have been injury to his image even before the one that followed to his hamstring; followed by our upset win on the last day of this major championship event. Trinidad and Tobago would have been pilloried in the media, as if we ourselves had tainted the medal Jamaica lost.

What does it mean for our athletics going forward? Country men and country women, barring a fundamental change in the leadership of local administration of track and field…nothing. Before this event there was Keshorn, there was Jehue, there is Cedenio in 2016 Olympics, our women sprinters who again in the media have been pleading for an organised approach to preparation of teams leading up to the major events.

Ask ourselves, what types of discussions have been held nationally with our coaches since 2016 Rio Olympics? As far as I know - none. What is the maturation process, development process for the upcoming athletes; some of the competitors cannot even vote or obtain driver's licenses in most countries.

Th
e Jamaican team has now to deal with its own mortality. They won one gold medal in the 110 hurdles. Injuries hit their team in the 4x100m for men and the women's 4x400m. Their Olympic superstar in the women's 100/200, Elaine Thompson, faltered. Never mind the absurd comments about age, delayed start of events or who served periods of suspension for drug abuse, these topics would NEVER have become part of the conversation had the results been different, if the gods of sport had not been in an impish mood and denied fairy tale endings. Justin Gatlin was not the asterisk Team Jamaica wanted but that is how history unfolds.

What next for us at home: the usual banal comments from self serving interests within and without the sport? The administration of track and field will step forward and suggest we are in great shape after all. The Sports minister will greet the athletes returning from the Games with all flourish possible to remove himself from under the clouds hovering over him. The 1% and others will take out full page ads. (I do not know what JTUM will do). What kind of package, deservedly so, will they receive? And when will the 2012 gold medalists receive their accolades and their golden packages?

As soon as Ocean Flower 3 gets here? Aw…don't be like that!

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