The Union frequently comments on events or receives news of general interest and these are documented on this page.
A worker employed as a teacher in a school owned and operated by a Christian Church was asked to resign her job after being accused of “infidelity” and being pregnant for a man other than her husband from whom she is separated.
As compensation the church has offered the worker inferior severance benefits and continuation of National Insurance contributions for maternity benefits. She was also informed that she could reapply for her existing job after one year.
The church school in a letter admitted that the worker is an excellent teacher but the issue is that the “adulterous affair was a bad testimony to the school and the parents”.
The worker was instructed by the church school how to word the reasons for the resignation in her letter as “due to circumstances beyond my control” or “as a result of my pregnancy”.
The worker in turn wrote the school protesting its demand for her to resign and asking that “as a qualified teacher what wrong have I done?” and “how does my personal life affect my job performance”.
It is ironical that the “adulterous” affair referred to as the reason for asking the worker to resign occurred when the worker was separated from her husband for one year, living apart and the couple are today still separated.
It seems to us in the National Workers Union that the “bad testimony” of the teacher only applies to the lower ranks of the church and school and not to the pastors and the other hierarchy.
The National Workers Union has taken a strong and firm decision to take up this unjust treatment of the worker to the highest-level right up to the Industrial Court. We need to put a stop to this unjust and discriminatory practice against this working woman. Who would have thought that we just celebrated International Women’s Day? The question is whether a male teacher or a male leader or pastor in the church would have been asked to resign under the same circumstances.
This issue is a major Industrial Relations bi-lateral precedent for trade unions and workers to defeat and bury for good. It is critical that in disciplinary practices at the workplace, workers domestic, personal and private business must not be used as a tool of victimization.
crisis which could have serious consequences for the working people the world
over is now brewing in Eastern Europe. If we are to believe the western news
reports this crisis developed because of the change of heart of Ukraine's
ousted President Viktor Yanukovych who at the last minute decided not to sign
the European Partnership agreement on the eve of the Conference which was to
take place in Vilnius the capital of Lithuania.
Yanukovych attended the conference but held off on signing the agreement. It
would appear that representatives of the European Union were shocked by his
decision so to do. Clearly, they did not cater for the interference of Russia.
Probably, they were led to believe all along that Russia, following the
collapse of socialism is not interested in what goes on in its sphere of
influence. The federation which was formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union,
without a doubt, is the realm of Russia. Anything which happens within the
member territories of the federation must have the blessings of Russia.
You see Russia
has strategic interests to protect and it views them in the same light as
America views it's interests in the Caribbean and Latin America. Ukraine
depends on oil and gas from Russia just as Europe does. So that when these
discussions began between Ukraine and the EU it is now clear that Russia was
playing dead to catch cobo alive. In other words, they waited until the real intentions
of the EU and its supporters, the USA and the UK, were revealed and then acted
by putting pressure on President
The crisis which
resulted and which led to the violent overthrow of the government was
precipitated by the high level of
corruption and the resultant loss of confidence in the government, thereby
creating the opening for nationalists, Nazis and other extreme right wing
elements to take the lead in the protest action and eventually seize power. I
would not be surprised if the hand of some foreign power was found to be
operating behind the scenes fanning the flames of protest because the stakes
foreign policy initiative, according to Dr Frank Umbach who is a member of the
new Ukraine 2020 Task Force, “was to create a geopolitical process to draw in
these countries and promote major
political and economic reforms for sustainable development” One might ask, well
what is wrong with sustainable development and political and economic reforms?
The answer is that the EU, the USA and the UK, want to leave Russia out.
currently facing a very serious financial crisis the result of a drop in the
price of steel and steel products on the international market. As a result, it
is unable to pay its debts. This
situation presented the opportunity for the European Union to step in as the
“Receiver” whose job is to foreclose – to put Ukraine up for sale. In the case
of a country, the international lending institutions usually send in a team of
experts to make an assessment of the extent of the indebtedness and to
recommend steps to be taken to recover the funds owing to the creditors.
You would recall
that Ukraine was a former Soviet state and therefore many of the enterprises
are still owned by the state, well the plan was to sell these enterprises
cheaply to multinational corporations. But Russia had offered Ukraine financial
assistance in the sum of 15 billion dollars and it had utilized about 5 billion
already when the EU called in their debt.
Russia saw that
move on the geopolitical draft board as an attack on its reputation, strategic
interest and, as we would say, they want to make people feel that Russia soft.
Well of course, Vladimir Putin not taking that; the man is a former KGB Officer
and an expert in judo.
Russia had warned
the Ukraine that if it signed a free trade agreement with the EU, Russia would
impose trade restrictions to prevent an influx of cheap European goods via
Ukraine. Some people might ask why all the fuss about the Ukraine? Well,
Ukraine is one of the largest countries in Europe, with a population of approximately
According to Eka
Tkeshelashvili President of the Georgia Institute of Strategic Studies, “for the European Union, Ukraine was the key
to the plans to set up the trade pact” since it was expected that Georgia,
Moldova, and Azerbaijan would have followed. They were seen as being
significant to the final outcome. Because, it was felt that Armenia, Belarus,
and Kazakhstan who are currently members of the Customs Union (Eurasian Union)
would have eventually followed their neighbours into this new arrangement. It
would appear that the whole thing back fired on them thereby leading to a
dangerous geopolitical situation.
What is noticeable
in all of the protests which occurred was the absence of the voice of
labour. We don't know the position of
labour with respect to the current situation. It would be useful to hear what
the labour movement has to say, since its members would be affected by the
outcome, one way or the other. What we are witnessing, is the hand of finance
capital at work seeking out new markets to exploit. For quite some time now
they have been in search of markets where the labour force is still relatively
young. Why? Because the labour force in Western Europe is ageing and people are
living longer and the population of young people is growing slowly, because
people are not having children as quickly as in other parts of Eurasia.
In addition, in
the Encyclopaedia of Ageing 2002, it was said in a different way; that “The growing insecurity of financial and
labour markets, stemming from global economic restructuring and the changing
nature of families” dictated the need to search for markets to exploit. In Western
Europe, the population is ageing and measures taken to increase the pensionable
age met with protests in some countries. By increasing the age to retirement of
the labour force say from sixty to seventy five, you would have bought fifteen more
years in which to buy and sell goods and services.
What must be
recognised, is the fact that where the labour force is growing old the cost of
maintenance would be high, resulting in low returns on investment in that
jurisdiction. Therefore, the capitalist is always looking for young, cheap
labour to exploit. If you can have a labour force from which you can get fifty
seven years of labour it means that a lot of profit can be realised from ones
In the 1960s and
1990s the Middle East, Africa and Asia were the sources of cheap labour, but
the experiment with that idea proved to be difficult, as it brought with it
certain cultural and religious problems. After the fall of the Soviet Union,
citizens of those countries that were its members were encouraged to migrate to
countries in Western Europe. However, it appears that most of them had decided
to go to Russia instead. The problem is that Russia considers all of what was
the former Soviet Union as it's backyard and make no mistake it will defend it.
Mark my words:
this situation has the potential to become extremely violent thereby escalating
into another war over markets and countries will have to take sides, based on
certain treaties and trade agreements which they signed, such as the European Partnership
Agreement. We need to pay close attention to how this situation is unfolding
because the repercussions for countries in this region could be significant.
Let us hope for the best.
On Carnival Tuesday, March 4th 2014, while tourists domiciled at the
Trinidad Hilton Hotel were jumping up and enjoying themselves in Port of Spain, the state-owned company, managed by the Hilton Group, sent home sixty part time workers, many of whom have been working at the upside down hotel for years.
The Communication Workers Union, the recognized majority union for the workers of Hilton, held a media conference to highlight the issue on Thursday 6th March in front of the Hotel. Comrade Rae Samuel of the National Workers union attended the media conference and supplied the following video.
In this world of
capitalist democracy and cut throat politics, we working people find ourselves
taking sides. In every instance, to our disappointment, it was either the PNM,
the DLP, the NAR, the COP and now the PP and the ILP. Have we learnt anything
from these experiences? Certainly not!
But we are likely
to fall victim once again to either the PNM, the PP, or the MSJ. For some
strange reason, we still believe that these parties have our interests at heart,
Why? Because they tell us so! But is that really true? The answer is no!
If you listen
carefully, you would have heard quite a number of politicians using the phrase,
“governance” whenever they had the opportunity to be on a political platform or
in front of the television. If you did not know it before, well, that is the
language of finance capital; the language of globalization. Another phrase
which is currently making the news is the perception of corruption for which I
understand, there is an index. Now, all of this sounds nice in our ears and
make us feel that these people have our and the country's interests at heart.
What we fail to grasp is that these are banners under which these politicians campaign
in order to get our votes.
I would not be
surprised if Transparency International is connected to the international
financial institutions. We must not be fooled by them. They are not interested
in eliminating corruption and they could care less about governance. So listen
up: in this capitalist system, corruption is integral to its survival. The
system is currently at a place where it can no longer pretend to represent the
interest of all of society. This is because the wealth, power and influence
which the one percent of the global population has amassed and the power they
hold over countries, politicians and
finance capital is placing them increasingly in direct confrontation
with working people and the poor.
you hear politicians using these phrases, you must understand that they are no
different to the preacher who would not have had anything to preach about if
there was no adultery; no homosexuality or crime. They all speak of the ills of
society but do they really want to get rid of those ills? To be truthful I
believe the jury is out on this one.
system from its inception was premised on the concept of freedom and liberty
for those who had property; wealth. That was so in England and in every country
where those who carried the banner of capitalism invaded. If you did not own
land you had no rights, you could not vote. Although the system enacted laws to
regulate the conduct of business and to manage the way people relate to and
with each other, there is now sufficient
evidence available to lead one to
conclude, that those laws are frequently circumvented by the rich and powerful
who have perfected the art of living outside of the law.
This is supported
by a report on the BBC on Wednesday 26 February, 2014, which said, that finance
personnel from Credit Suisse Bank which is located in Switzerland have been
travelling to America to assist wealthy Americans in circumventing the tax laws
of that country in order to evade tax while they transfer billions of dollars
into offshore bank accounts.
The system speaks
with forked tongues and therefore they who manage the system and those who seek
to replace them are advocates in the pay of the controllers of the power. The
problem is that they need our support in order to maintain the illusion that
the system is all-inclusive when in fact it is not. The democracy of which they
speak is an illusion which they must seek to maintain because of their
awareness of the power of the working class. But one of the saving graces for
them is the realization that the spokespersons for the working class are not
always speaking with one voice. And in most instances they appear to be divided
on the question of the way forward. This was the case within the progressive streams
during the post 1970 period.
Having as we now
do, the experiences of the failures of the past struggles of the progressive
left, both foreign and local, it would be useful to analyse these experiences
in a sober manner to see what is useful and what is not. If the problem was the
quality of the leadership, then we must ask why was that so? if we find that
the answer tells us that our leaders failed because they were more interested
in what they could achieve for themselves, by riding on the backs of the people
to achieve their goals, then the movement, the organization, whatever you may
call the entity with responsibility for guiding and charting the way forward,
would have to agree on rules that are aimed at preventing betrayal of the
CHECKS AND BALANCES
You see it would
be premature to dismiss the view that persons who assume the task of giving
leadership to a movement should not be considered as the best sons and
daughters. It is important to remember that in many of these situations the
leaders were elected and they had the confidence of the people. But because
there were not sufficient checks and balances to protect the class interests
the opportunistic leaders were able to exploit the loop holes in the system.
are not sufficiently weighty enough to disqualify persons deemed to be the best
sons and daughters from emerging as leaders of the working class. Some emerge
at the head of the movement and some at various other levels and it is always
by the correctness and quality of their leadership that they are (s)elected.
That is the nature of the struggle. At every stage of the struggle we gain new
experiences. We sometimes learn that some comrades are only able to travel up
to a certain point along the road and that others have betrayed the struggle.
We must learn
from all these experiences. With the new knowledge we acquire we must use it to
devise new approaches in charting our next steps. This may not be as easy as it
sounds, because we are dealing with people and the fact that the system keeps
throwing different influences at them. Persons in leadership positions are also
affected or sometimes infected by those influences. So that while we would like
our leaders to walk the straight and narrow, we must always be as watch dogs ensuring
that we can spot when they are going on to the winding roads where the ditches
and three card men are always lurking.
It has been my
experience that the membership of most organisations do not play a sufficiently
active role; acting as a check on potential indiscretions of the leaders. So
while we must condemn traitors and opportunists we must not throw the baby out
with the bath water. So we are a currently at a place where we must decide in
our own interest on which side we are, because there are a lot of issues which
cry out for discussion.
Many of them
remain simmering under a cover of doubt and suspicion about whether they should
be exposed to the light of day. That is why I have decided to provoke a
discussion precisely: because the political situation nationally and
internationally is going to become very volatile we must be clear about who we
are, where we want go, how we are going to get there and the quality of the
leadership we must have in order to arrive at our destination.
If we are of the
working class we should be able to identify those who are for the working
class. You see: being of the working class is not the same as being for the
working class. Many times those who claim to be for the working class are the
ones who end up betraying that class, although we have also had betrayals by
our class brothers and sisters. It is becoming increasingly necessary to decide
where we stand. Unless we are able to do so with clarity we would not be able
to give direction to the mass movement. We would remain divided and not be
clear on the way forward. Let’s take a side!
Some years ago during the internal struggle that took place within MOTION, Teddy Belgrave circulated a pamphlet that called for the creation of an inner circle within the party that would essentially be controlled by the “best sons and daughters.”
His idea was defeated because he and his “controlling freaks” wanted to build a Bernard Coard style party where decisions would be made by a handful of people. Thanks to the struggle waged within the party, they were exposed and defeated, and this led to the demise of MOTION.
In 2014, the discourse about the “best sons and daughters” has resurfaced. I have a problem with this notion because it is a fantasy that can’t be supported by historical evidence. In fact, the evidence has suggested otherwise.
The “best sons and daughters” hijacked the American Revolution and bourgeoisified it. The “best sons and daughters” hijacked the French Revolution and Napoleonized it. The “best sons and daughters” hijacked the Russian Revolution and Stalinized it. The “best sons and daughters” hijacked the Chinese Revolution and Dengized it.
The “best sons and daughters” hijacked the South African Revolution and neo-liberalized it. The “best sons and daughters” hijacked the Zimbabwe Revolution and Murgarbageized it. The “best sons and daughters”, in all these major revolutions, proved to be very incompetent, insecure, and manipulative and turned the guns and tanks on the workers and people.
As for Trinidad and Tobago, “the best sons and daughters,” hijacked the Independence movement, hijacked the Black Power Movement, hijacked the ULF, hijacked MOTION, hijacked the OWTU and hijacked NATUC. As a result, the people and workers have been set back but not defeated.
The historical evidence in every major global struggle has shown that it was the “rejects,” the “outcasts,” “the marginalized,” who the French called the sans-culottes who “turned the world upside down”. It was Peter the fisherman and his crew who “turned the Jewish World upside down.” In the Roman Empire, it was Jason and the certain brethren who turned the Roman world “upside down.”
In the Haitian Revolution, it was the slaves from below who fought for total emancipation. In Trinidad, it was the “Jamette” movement that radically challenged British colonial rule. In the United States, it was ordinary people in Alabama, Mississippi, and other areas of the Jim Crow South that began the struggle against White Supremacy.
In Nigeria, it was the ordinary “market women” who showed the way against British colonialism. In South Africa in the 1970s, it was the youths of Soweto who led the way against the Apartheid regime. In 2014, all over the globe it is ordinary men, women, and young people who are waging struggles against the neo-liberal onslaught of global capitalism. If anything else, history has taught us that the “best sons and daughters” are political opportunists who use these movements to serve their own agendas and derail the struggles.
Therefore, let us rid our discourse of the phrase “best sons and daughters” and examine C.L.R. James’ thesis of “every cook can govern.” The discourse should not be on “the best sons and daughters” but on what type of society we envision that will best serve all the people of Trinidad and Tobago and what political vehicle we want to create to get us there.
This is hard work and calls for great thought, dedication and commitment. It does not come by wishing that “best sons and daughters” have the solutions. It only comes when we begin the discourse on these issues in the homes, the churches/temples/mosques, the schools and institutions of higher learning, the panyards, on the “blocks,” in trade union halls, on the buses, in the gardens and on the farms, in restaurants and pubs/ rum shops, in the maxi taxis, on the streets, in the markets and even on the beaches.
I am happy to see that my article on the PNM and the politics of deception has managed to cause some gentlemen to ask critical questions and also to express very important views on what I would consider is the way forward. I suspect the two gentlemen, from the inquiry made and the commentary in the two articles, would like me to be more specific about the criteria to be used to determine who will qualify in that category.
History has shown that those who will fit the phrase “the best among us” always emerge in the heat of struggle. But their emergence in such circumstances should not be taken to mean that such persons did not come through the fire of working class education both in theory and working class practice. I am speaking here about comrades who are committed, tried and tested.
When the United States, the Chinese, Cubans or any of these countries create their special forces such as the Navy Seals, in most instances they would ensure that these troops are committed, because they were tried and tested. The task of producing such leaders can only be achieved through working class education and “training” in the school of class struggle.
Notwithstanding the current state of the working class movement in this country, I still have faith in the collective wisdom of the working people. Because the movement has taught me to be patient and to have confidence in its ability to rebound and to throw up new leaders at a time of need. What is important is for us who are tracking the ebb and flow of the class struggle to be prepared, when the workers are ready, to give correct leadership to the mass movement.
Many of the trade union leaders today grew up in trade unions whose leaders were students of the CIA trade union schools such as American Institute for Free Labour Development (AIFLD).Such leaders honestly believe that labour's role is only to deal with the normal trade union issues and, from time to time, to demonstrate the power of its members to a particular employer in order to win benefits form that employer.
It is well known that such is the style of certain trade unions in America with Mafia ties. Too many of them want to hunt with the hounds and run with the hares. They have not been emphasising sufficiently that solidarity is the life blood of the working class. That is why the powers that be have been succeeding in dividing the movement.
Mr. Ramkissoon is correct: the movement has failed in the past to keep the history of the working class movement here at home and abroad alive and that is because, either wittingly or unwittingly, some of these leaders by their action or inaction have taken the working class over to the side of their class enemy. Some people believe that such action is deliberate.
For the time being I would say no comment. But this view resides in certain quarters among workers. Because it is felt that the reason why certain leaders in some of the leading unions are reluctant to promote worker education of the working class type is because they are afraid of their members.
Over the past twenty four years, many of our working people have come to believe that they now form part of the middle class; the same false propaganda that is being peddled for the consumption of workers in America and as such they believe they are not of the working class. One of the reasons for such is the fact that they who harbour such belief, think that middle class means owning a car for you and your wife and owning a house which is not really yours because you are paying a mortgage on it.
Like the middle class in America, these people who are really workers are under the spell of capitalist propaganda just like the youths here, who believe, that wearing their pants below their bottoms, make them look cool. They do not know, or care to know, that it originated in the prisons, because prisoners are not allowed to wear belts in their pants and laces in their shoes.
Such is the power of the capitalist propaganda machine that we must come up against it in creative ways in order to win these prodigal sons and daughters of the working class back into our ranks. The truth is we cannot say or pinpoint how, when, or under what set of circumstances leaders who will fit the description mentioned earlier, will emerge; perhaps they are already here with us. Therefore it is only by their practice we shall know them. Perhaps they may even emerge from among the ranks of those who now see themselves as belonging to the middle class.
The time is not far off when persons holding bachelor’s degrees in engineering, marketing, and in the sciences will suddenly realize that they really belong to the working class in the category of highly skilled workers. Such is the direction in which technology has taken the global labour market, thus confirming Karl Marx's conclusion that the capitalist system through the medium of education, will create its own grave diggers.
Objectively, this is something which it cannot avoid doing. And, this is where the education of the working class becomes necessary, in order for them to have a clear understanding of their role in the production process, and also their relationship with the means of production distribution and exchange.
The working people must be educated to understand, for example, that in the current scheme of things, the salaries earned by persons who are categorised as blue or white collar employees, really earn income which they hand over to the banks to pay their mortgages and to the commercial establishments for food and much needed items. The fact is that the whole society is living on credit.
In addition, they must be educated to know that the so-called democracy and the capitalist system, - which Dr. Morgan Job believes will be with us forever, since in his view, it is the best thing for us - will have its crises and will also go out of existence, like all the other forms of society which existed before it.
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” Karl Marx wrote those words which remain true even up to this day. In my view the task before us at this time, is to educate the working class to understand that history has placed the burden and the responsibility and also the duty on it not only to produce the wealth of society (Trinidad and Tobago) but to change it for the batter. That is why it will take only the best among us; those with a clear vision, the courage and determination, to stay the course like Nelson Mandela, like C.L.R. James and Uriah Butler.
To all and sundry, just three quick points before the Carnival starts. I really believe, and still hope, that the political directorate bestow upon deceased Kitchener ‘the Order of Trinidad and Tobago’ (posthumously of course) as was received by his erstwhile contemporary, the Mighty Sparrow. I thought it was short-sighted and consider it another misstep which can be corrected.
Secondly, I want to go on record by saying that my brother and I are ready to donate a small four figure donation towards the erection of a larger than life statue of Leroy Calliste – the Black Stalin - a statue that must meet the approval of the artiste himself, preferably for me, in full flight on stage.
I even have a location in mind, in that I would like to see such a statue being placed in front of the Rusty Barrel pub where there is a boulder garden facing the entrance to Skinner Park, in San Fernando, a place Stalin held court for decades. Could some committee, cultural institution, radio station (hello WACK) run with the idea before the bard closes his eyes?
My third point is that if ever an institution is needed in our country, it is a union of, for and by artistes. All I can say at this point is that sooner rather than later, I will try to inveigle like minds and hearts to produce such a body for the welfare of our cultural people.
I would welcome a discussion on any one of the above points through your medium but while we dither, Calypso Bois could reign!
Anyone interested in the statue for Black Stalin project may contact Frank Sears at telephone # 681 7205
On Wednesday 19, February I attended the funeral of Nola Maureen Valerie Cox. At the time of her death, she was 62 years of age. Nola was an active member of the Transport and Industrial Workers Union (TIWU). She and Bernice Jones who also passed away more than 10 years ago were instrumental in getting employees of the Cindy Shoe Company to join the Union. Bernice was the wife of deceased TIWU trade unionist James Jones.
The conditions under which they were employed led Nola and Bernice to act on the advice of the union organiser and they were able to convince the other employees to join the union. She remained an active member of TIWU even after the Company closed its doors in the late 1970s. In delivering the homily, Father George Archer spoke of the challenges which Nola faced throughout her adult life; not unlike the working class from which she came. He described those challenges as the “up-againstness of life”
There are challenges which the ordinary working people come up against almost every day of their lives: poor health services, bad roads, inadequate water supply, poor drainage and flooding when there is heavy rain fall, the crime situation and corruption just to name a few. I suspect that he coined that phrase in order to speak to her strength of character in the face of her personal challenges: the death of her son and the disease which eventually led to her death. These are some of the issues which the working poor can relate to because they can feel it; they can touch it.
But there are challenges which will present serious consequences to their livelihood and those of their families which they are not aware of, but the powers that be will not inform the population about these challenges.
They will not tell the population that the so-called liquidity in the economy, (plenty money in the banking system but local investor are not borrowing) and commercial loans for the purchase of cars and so on, will not serve to expand the economic base because it does not create new jobs. Even the discovery of new oil and gas fields does not mean a better life for the poor; when one consider the fact that America is now relying mostly on its local oil supply; Brazil, Angola, Nigeria and other countries on the African continent have also found gas and oil.
So if the powers that be, whom so ever they may be now or in the future, continue to believe that the future of the country can be secured because of our oil and gas and through privatizing the state sector to complete the handover of the family jewels, then, they do not have a clue about what is happening in the world economy. Disposing of state assets in an auction sale - that is what it is - is not the solution and it is certainly not the way to plan the economy in charting the way forward for this country's future.
Against the background of the economic uncertainty in the USA and the Euro-zone countries where the rate of unemployment is high and economic growth seems to only benefit the wealthy, and where economies in Latin America and the Caribbean are likely to experience a drag on the pace of recovery, this is likely to have an impact on the purchasing power of consumers in these markets. Such an eventuality will certainly affect exports from this country.
Already we are seeing that Royal Bank of Canada has decided to dispose of a substantial part of its portfolio, no doubt because of the uncertainty which is lurking in the shadows; partly because of the turbulence in the major economic centres of the world. One would expect that in the face of this situation, where it would be unwise to depend on the local private sector, who is clearly not interested in investing in projects with a long gestation period.
It is interested only in the use of foreign exchange for the purchase of foreign goods for the local retail market, the government would see the wisdom in taking the lead in investing in new and innovative areas and in agriculture which has been stagnant for years. One benefit to be derived from the expansion of the economic base of that sector, downstream and also up stream, would be to phase out our heavy dependence on foreign agriculture products both primary and refined.
Although the Finance Minister gave the assurance some time ago that the Heritage and Stabilization fund is healthy and our foreign reserves can meet our expectations whenever the need arises it would be wise of him to be alert to the fact that many of the products being sold on the financial markets are junk and are also suspected as being toxic. The public is not aware that our foreign reserves and two reserve funds earn returns -interest- because the government makes investments on our behalf. Therefore, these investments must be made wisely.
You see, it is alleged, that paper products purporting to represent real gold products are currently changing hands. It is also alleged, that certain leading economies that are steeped in debt and whose balance of trade does not support the amount of new money released into the financial markets through the creation of paper gold is likely to spark an inflationary spiral. The people who would benefit from such an eventuality are those who control the financial power in the world economy. If one should pay close attention to what is happening in G.20 circles you would discover that there is a struggle between the major western powers and the BRICS countries; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
For the time being, it appears to be waged according to the rules of the diplomatic hand book. But this struggle is about markets, cheap labour and energy resources and to decide by fair or foul means which grouping will control them. We had such a situation in the past which led to slavery and colonialism in the 1400s and in the early 1900’s which led to the First World War and in the late 1930s when the Second World War erupted. On this occasion, we have a situation where old imperial and colonial powers are facing up against a group comprised of entities with a so-called socialist present and past background and some new emerging powers.
Such countries as Brazil, India and South Africa had a colonial past. When you look at the geo-political map what you see, is where the area of influence of the BRICS countries becomes a counter to the western powers led by America. Each of these countries peddles influence in geographical areas, defined by their physical location and also in other jurisdictions defined by language and cultural ties. All of the BRICS countries have within their borders the energy oil and gas and cheap labour resources which some of the former imperial powers need.
The western powers are looking towards Eastern Europe for cheap labour and oil and gas from the Ukraine, and countries of the former Soviet bloc. America is bent on securing a cultural and economic bridgehead in the Middle East with the help of Saudi Arabia and Israel. The problem, however, is that Russia, Iran and Pakistan to a lesser extent, have been placing obstacles in its way.
In my estimation, there is going to be a major power play, because the controllers of the financial power in the world are bent on having their way. It is clear, that they are prepared to create financial crisis after crisis, if that is what it will take in order for them to continue to control and direct the future of mankind.
What should be of interest to us, however, is that Russia which is no longer led by a Socialist government, still appears to be managing a very large state economic sector. This is because some western multinationals it is alleged, are reluctant to invest because of the stringent legal conditionality which they must meet in order to qualify. China, on the other hand, is led by a Communist Party, but it seems to be running a mixed economic system in which the state's influence is pervasive. I raise these concerns under the phrase “the up-againstness of life” because they are challenges which our country must face in its relationship within and without these two economic blocs.
Are countries associated with them to follow a mixed economic path or should they lean in the direction of a more open system, where internally the balance of forces may be trending in that direction. We know where the head of the western powers are - as we would say in the local vernacular. The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, in responding to what she described as current and future trends, is advising the international community, the real power brokers, to develop a multilateral approach in order to avoid another collapse worldwide. But that would be dependent on which camp is in control of the political war room in the G 20 club.
In order to prepare to meet such an eventuality, we must begin to think extra-regionally, regionally and internally and plan accordingly. So those politicians who are now in government and the ones that are offering themselves as replacements, must understand, that privatizing the state sector will not prepare us to face the crisis which the extremists are prepared to unleash on the world in order to achieve their goal which is to dominate and control political and economic power on a global scale. That is what globalization is about.
Therefore, the challenge which we face is to begin to diversify the economy away from oil and gas, even as we deepen ties with countries in the BRICS camp. But even as we do so, we must be alert to the machinations of China, which is currently in competition with America on the African continent.
China is presenting a face of friendship and a willingness to enter into trade agreements which for the time being, reflect the mutual interest of each partner, but China's foreign policy posturing seems to suggest that there is more than what we see on the surface. That is to say, one must not forget the fact that China sees itself as a great power and believes that it can replace America in the geo-political game which is to seek to control the greater share of the world's resources.
It must be noted that the control of markets includes the control of governments and countries under the leadership of these governments. If we did not know it before, we must know it now: the geo-political game is the game of thrones. Therein lie the challenges we must face, our up-againstness of life.
Mandela was branded a terrorist by the white racist regime of South Africa and
by extension capitalist word leaders. After the long struggles and the
dismantling of apartheid he was anointed by the same hypocrites as the famous
hero for mankind. History and Politics are very fluid!
Nelson Mandela radically change his ideological position from Nelson Mandela
the freedom fighter and Nelson Mandela the President of South Africa? Can the
same be said about working class leaders in positions of state power today
defending /uplifting the condition of the working class? Where are the likes of
George Weekes, Joe Young, Cola Rienzi, Uriah Butler; skilful negotiators like
Nuevo Diaz .
Labour Movement and WI Cricket of the post-Vivian Richards era are suffering a similar
fate with respect to the patriotism, the will, the history, the identity. Few
present day West Indies cricketers can tell three or four things about the
Three W's, Ramadhin, Gary Sobers.
Few present young trade unionists can write two
paragraphs on Weekes, Butler, Rienzi, Cipriani. The trade union movement weakened
in the post-George Weekes era. WI cricket weakened after Sobers, Kanhai, Lloyd and
Richards. In the absence of knowing where you came from, difficulty follows the
we are conditioned to think causes us to step out of our class boundaries
to seek answers and philosophize why we are where we are. Frankly: the answers
are right in the back pockets of our old trousers.
1990 (I think) we had two labour organisations, the Council of Progressive
Trade Unions (CPTU) and the Trinidad and Tobago Labour Congress (TTLC). I don’t
have the figures of the total membership, but it may have been in the vicinity
of 120,000 members. The TTLC was largely northern-based and the CPTU was
heavily influenced by the largely southern-based Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union.
The business class and Eric Williams’ PNM had great influence in the TTLC
whereas the CPTU was branded as rebels.
conflicts would often rear their ugly heads for Labour Day Celebrations between
the two labour groups. CPTU would always celebrate in Fyzabad and TTLC would
often celebrate in Port of Spain. So right there we have working class conflict
among the labour leaders and it, of course, affected the workers.
class consciousness and education were evident and alive in the CPTU. There
were teach-ins, lectures, study groups, education council, branch bulletins. There
were demonstrations, letters to the editors, popular slogans, local and
international labour news published in the Vanguard and Socialist Worker
newspapers and distributed to all branches. There was involvement in the art
form, support for international working class struggles etc.
TTLC was led by so-called leaders that were influenced and rewarded by the Eric
Williams PNM. So, in essence, the TTLC lacked the elements of true working
class struggles and identity. So right here we had working class conflict.
1974/75 came the new "political working class" vehicle from oil,
sugar, transport etc. into a political United "Labour" Front (ULF).
Excitement, hope, unity among the members! Although the 1970 Black Power
Movement brought about a semblance of unity among Afro and Indo Trinis, for the
first time Africans (oil) and Indians (sugar) united as a political force. Oil
and Sugar embraced. This, of course,
raised a red flag for the Eric Williams PNM and the business class. In 1965,
when the Industrial Stabilisation Act was enacted Eric Williams felt his
greatest achievement was keeping Oil and Sugar apart.
branded as communist by certain elements in the society the ULF won ten seats
in the 1976 general election. Those ten seats were the result of the power of
the working class. Workers felt their power, the power of labour operated in
the scheme of things. So right there it seemed to have working class unity.
all this was happening on the political front, the education and training
intensified, mostly among young comrades of the working class at Paramount
Building: seminars on industrial relations, the role and responsibility of the
shop stewards and branch officers. Members from various unions and workers’ organisations
were invited to participate. The identity and values of the working class took
on a new dimension. So right there the working class was making some progress.
contradictions among the leaders in the ULF intensified within two short years,
the effects of which filtered down within the unions, the setback of the
working class started to become evident. Some labour leaders on tasting
parliamentary office, consciously or unconsciously redirected their energies into
bourgeois politics while spouting working class slogans to enhance their positions
of leadership within the labour movement. They became false prophets and
betrayed the cause.
George Weekes continued the drive for working class education and identity and
the OWTU was the nucleus for those activities that spread throughout, from
within the ranks insecure leaders who felt threatened by this education and
training of the grass root members started to undermine the thrust. Certain
progressive comrades who were at the forefront of the training and education
were marginalized and therein the centre started to collapse. The working class
identity further faded, not only due to the external capitalist forces, but due
to the leadership from within the labour movement.
Howell's armchair view: “the best among
us to take power" is in
a difficult position. It must rise
up from a new breed of secondary leaders whose first mission is to seize power
within the labour movement and then work towards working class political power.
Frank Sears, having been in the bowels of the OWTU from the 1970's, is in a
sound position to rouse, stimulate, create change and show cause as to why the
working class movement with its present bourgeois conscious leaders are not
“the best among us.”
Multinational companies are big
and powerful. Globally a mere 147 corporations, which form a “super entity”,
control 40% of the world’s wealth. These mega-corporations are at the centre of
the global capitalist economy. And so they can come into small
countries and behave as if nothing matters. This is the colonialism of our age.
Samsung is well known for advanced
technology, semiconductors, skyscraper and plant construction, petrochemicals,
fashion, medicine, finance, hotels, and more. According to itself “Our flagship company, Samsung Electronics,
leads the global market in high-tech electronics manufacturing and digital media.”
Founded in 1969, this Korea-based company set up an
office in Trinidad last year. Within a year, they dismissed one of their senior
One of their Human Resources
Managers arrived from Miami, waited until the end of the working day, and then
just told the worker he had been dismissed. No hearing … no warning … dismissed
This is part of the arrogance of
multinational companies in that they just think the laws they have in their own
countries they can use in Trinidad. They think we are a small country dat doh
have no laws ah we own!
In Uncle Sam's land, the land of
the free and corporate corruption, workers are often employed under what are
called “at will” contracts. What that means is that the worker does not have to
give notice and can just leave “at will”.
But the problem is that the
employer can do the same and dismiss workers “at will”. No reason, no hearing,
no “natural justice”, no procedures. Just go!
When the National Workers Union
raised the question of this worker's dismissal with Samsung’s regional office
in Miami, we had to remind them that in Trinidad and Tobago, employers must
have “cause” to dismiss a worker and need to go through proper procedures.
Samsung was forced to agree to
pay the worker TT$300,000 to settle the matter rather than be taken through the
Ministry of Labour to the Industrial Court.
But they can afford it. Reports
in January 2014 indicate that they made an operating profit of $7.8 billion
profit. That's US$, not TT$, of course.
As they say in the adverts: “Imagine what Samsung can do for you”.
Or should that be, “Imagine what Samsung
can do to you?