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

WHO BETTER TO LOOK AFTER THEM? by Verna St. Rose-Greaves

posted 16 Apr 2014 14:58 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 16 Apr 2014 15:05 ]

Love and Care

In the midst of a kind of pain that only she could experience but not explain, young mother Okilia Mayers tries to come to terms
with the gruesome and macabre death of her two babies at the hands of a man who loved them. Trying to make sense of the connection between love and this grievous hateful act she speaks of her own abuse, not able to imagine its’ cruel segue into the lives of her children and their eventual deaths. Through her story she identifies some of the challenges she faced. The economic reality and the well-being of her family demanded that she worked. In order to work she needed someone to look after her little ones; child care that was accessible, safe, perhaps round the clock and affordable. In the absence of such a service who better to look after them than their father.

Relationship

Grief-stricken she spoke of her relationship with 33yr old Barry Karamath; his insecurities, threats and abuse, her tolerance and the action she took. The guilt she feels manifests in her self-questioning, whether she did the right thing convinced by the outcome that she did not. Thinking out loud she advises others, to act sooner than she did. If only she knew then what she has had to learn the hard way? But who teaches us anything about relationships intimate or otherwise; how to form, nurture, maintain, and where necessary how to end them.

Into the Darkness

Barry in his darkest time, those last desperate moments spoke through his texts to her. Messages which can be translated into - see what you made me do- I will punish you- hurt you by taking what is most precious to you. They will be with me and you can never think of them without thinking of me. Now I finally have your attention, you will never forget me. In his mind this final act sealed his power over her forever. One neighbour refusing to let him be defined only by this dastardly act shares another side of the man. There is good in all of us. According to her he had been crying out for help but no one took him seriously.

Public Response-responsibility

An angry public describes him as they have so many others; demon, beast, evil and not human. In essence he is not of us; the separation must be made because we are better than he is. Little or no serious thought is given to his history, his state of mind, or what horror of horrors would have perpetuated such a legacy. Forensic investigations will yield criminal evidence to establish culpability and cause of death. His pathway to peril remains irrelevant.

Not in My Yard

In Matura the community reputation is defended, “these people” come from outside to give us a bad name. The subtext suggests that they did not belong; he could have killed them somewhere else why did he have to come here. Well he came for healing; to be touched and cleansed, to be given hope. He knew that all was not well with him that he needed help. The symbolism of the bush bath is powerful. Where in his community could he go, for the special attention he so craved, a closer, different kind of engagement without being laughed at and denigrated; to whom could he turn to be heard and treated confidentially if not anonymously.

Stories converge to lay blame. The mother is further victimised, her past and present blurred, stereotypes hold fast; she should have known better. These women look for men who like bling and wear pants below their bottoms. Persons who have never laid eyes on either party pronounce. It’s so easy or maybe just convenient to forget our history even our recent past.

Almost forty years ago a young woman desperate and in need of help took her three young children to the sea at Carenage and drowned two of them because she had only two hands. I can name so many others since then. Yet today the head of the Task Force for the Protection of Children states and is supported in the view that this could not have been prevented. We should be so ashamed. This family was already in the system; this supposed abstraction which continues to fail our citizens.

I have moved past remembering the name and story of each child killed over the years. But I cannot move past our failure to provide basic amenities with the financial and other resources at our disposal. How difficult can it be to assign 2-6 units in every state housing settlement to the relevant ministry to provide services related to family and community well-being? Outside of government housing areas properties must be sourced and outfitted for this purpose. These can be used to temporarily house victims of violence, families in crisis, those transitioning, child care for pre and school aged children. Persons in those communities can be trained to meet identified needs and attached to those programs working alongside professionals who know how to get the job done. We have made this sad journey so many times, will we ever learn. I rest my pain upon the altar. Ase.

Verna St. Rose Greaves
I from Covigne

THEY MUST GO! by Mario Als

posted 14 Apr 2014 17:29 by Gerry Kangalee

The Statement below attributed to the AG raises a moot point:

"He added while comments made prior to the completion of the investigations by First Citizens chairman Nyree Alfonso were "injudicious and premature", and generated much public consternation and disquiet, the information suggests and confirms that she and rest of the board, being non-executive (except for Nath), were not intrinsically involved in the IPO process and so there was no evidence of misconduct on its part." (excerpt from Daily Express, April 11, 2014)

Ramlogan said the issue of removing and replacing the board "does not arise", for the simple reason one cannot find any evidence of misconduct on its part.

"There is no case for asking any board member to resign,” he said.

BIGWU notes these remarks with alarm and it appears that the AG has been imprisoned by a strict interpretation of the law which his legal training confines him to.

There is however something called MORAL LAW, defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as relating to a system of ethics and which defines the criteria of a right action.

Ms. Alfonso as Chairman of the Bank dismissed concerns over Mr. Rahaman’s suspicious actions as having nothing to do with morals and ethics. Mr. Nath as CEO, by his silence can only be described as a willing accomplice to morals and ethics being irrelevant considerations in this whole scenario, and the AG appears to be complicit to this dismissal of moral law, perhaps blinded by defence of political appointees.

In any event, the Union wishes to refer to an excerpt from a commentary on the issue by Ms. Catherine Kumar, CEO of the T&T Chamber of Commerce:

"...you don’t want to have to legislate for everything. Governance is very important. Good corporate governance and governance with everyone, even in our personal lives to know what is right and wrong“ Kumar said.

This is an issue of good corporate governance and moral law. In the court of public opinion, not constricted by the AG’s legislative outlook, morality and ethics in the conduct of the Bank’s business was eschewed by its leading personalities: THEY MUST GO!!!

SECTION 34 RELOADED! by Raphael Fyzabad

posted 11 Apr 2014 11:29 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 11 Apr 2014 19:06 by Dave Smith ]

The People’s Partnership (PP) government Public Procurement Bill laid in the Senate by Minister of Planning Dr. Bhoe Tewarie was denounced as ‘bogus’ and an attempt to defraud the people just as the infamous Section 34 law.

The denouncement was made by the Private Sector Civil society Group (PS/CSG) comprising the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA), and TTTI (Transparency Institute) at a public seminar on public procurement reform held at the Learning Resources Centre of University of the West indies (UWI) on Wednesday 09 April 2014.

The session was attended by a cross section of professionals and other stakeholders in the construction industry including representatives from the Local Content Chamber, Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FITUN, and the MSJ.

The feature presenters of the PS/CSG outlined the history of efforts made from 2005 with the White Paper on Reform of Public Sector Procurement Regime tabled in the Parliament in April 2012 to create a modern public procurement law to protect the public wealth and punish the jacket and tie criminals who enter government to enrich themselves and their cronies via contracts. The new law proposed by the stakeholders group was to, among other things:

  • bring all agencies spending or receiving public money under a single legal and regulatory framework operating on clear policy and principles covering all stages of the procurement process and parties involved in a transaction involving public money
  • provide effective mechanisms for oversight and control 
  • require appropriate transparency of the value and impact of transactions involving public money
  • ensure as far as possible integrity in the public procurement system
  • meet international anti-corruption standards consistent with international obligations
  • promote the prevention of corruption 

However, the Bill before the Senate is not consistent with these aims agreed to in the recommendations made by the PS/CSG to the Joint Select Committee (JSC) of Parliament because the PP Government has sneaked in several exclusion clauses just like the Section 34 law.

These clauses were never discussed and agreed to during the consultations held with the JSC and the civil society groups:

  • The PP Bill excludes all Government to Government transactions. 
  • It excludes any transactions involving international financial agencies, like the Chinese EXIM Bank which by the way requires that 50% of all contracts value must return to China via purchase of Chinese materials, equipment and labour. 
  • It also excludes all contracts engaged in by State enterprises like National Gas Company (NGC) and public bodies like TSTT (Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago). 
  • It further excludes protection for ‘whistle blowers’ who expose corruption in public contracts. 
  • It doesn’t demand that a register of all contracts awarded by the State and State enterprises be maintained and published regularly. 

This bogus law tabled by Tewarie also removes the Independent Regulator with the power to void any contract found to have been corruptly procured at any stage during the procurement process. The proposed PP law now before the Senate will make legal the looting of the $1 billion traced to offshore banks from the $1.6 billion Piarco airport contract and the $400 million heist planned via the NGC Beetham waste water contract.

What the PP regime really thinks about public procurement is clearly shown by the fact that the NGC/WASA Beetham project expenditure was never listed in the 2013/14 Budget and NGC recently wrote the attorney for a stakeholder who requested access to the Tender Rules and Request For Proposals documents for the project advising that the info is ‘confidential’ and cannot be released. How they sharing up taxpayers money among their financiers and cronies is confidential!

The Economist Crony Capitalist Index 2014 ranks Singapore as No. 3 in the list of crony capitalist countries. Does that explain why a Singapore company was engaged by NGC for the procurement stage of this contract?

It’s Section 34 all over again!!!

ONE MORE SIP by Rae Samuel

posted 10 Apr 2014 10:40 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 10 Apr 2014 10:41 ]

In Chinese literature/folklore, death is often referred to as "heavier than Mount Thai or lighter than a feather", depending on how one's service to one's fellow man is perceived. As I write this, the death of ANR Robinson has been announced and the 'trib-obituaries'' are starting to flow as 'streams into rivers, rivers into seas’, to use one of Mr. Robinson's well known phrases.

Like a 'good, objective journalist'', (that creature of someone's imagination along with belief in flat earths and virgin births and MSJ forming the next government) like a good 'unbiased' reporter, I am listening to the comments made in the wake of Mr. Robinson's passing.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Robinson was in 'active' politics' since 1956 (see I am picking up good journalistic phrases). Now if I were writing for a particular trade union's webpage I would ask for a definition of 'inactive politics' and come up with the DNA led by Kirk Meighoo, whose claim to fame was that somewhere in Chaguanas a while back he was arrested for all of 5 minutes. They probably let him out when the van stopped for gas.

During his time in public life Robinson served as Deputy Prime Minister, Prime Minister, President and bane of Basdeo Panday. Poor, poor Bas (in spite of the $10 million and the Kensington flat in London)! Mr. Panday, ex labour leader whom no one calls comrade, is seemingly very venomous when asked to comment on certain matters and Mr. Robinson, even in his transition was not spared.

For Mr. Panday, the late Mr. Robinson was the man who took away his government when there was an 18/18 electoral tie. Mr. Panday thought that he should have remained in office because he 'had more votes'', which is of no consequence in our political/electoral processes. Maybe it is Mr. Panday’s way of rueing that he did not pass that bit of "constitutional reform'' before Mr. Robinson got to him. Of course, out of office, "constitutional reform' is now Mr. Panday's road march/groovy soca/social commentary/tune of choice which he will sing for any receptive ear.

Mr. ex-comrade Panday's comments always refer to his losses. He lost his UNC, he lost his government, and he lost elections because of Ramesh and Trevor. Maybe he should go into business as a 'loss leader''.

But I have strayed. We are speaking of the passing of a former national leader who is no longer with us. But, and bear with me, I think if we allowed Mr. Panday one more day as Prime Minister ONE MORE SIP, the foxy smile would return and the vituperation would cease. And I think it could be done, except for one major hurdle. He would have to fight Errol for it....like hell!

What is/ shall be Mr. Robinson’s legacy? I find it easy to tell of a person's contribution if you can say it in two to three words Sparrow/calypso; Sobers/cricket; Pele/football; Butler/labour; Pat Bishop/culture; George Weekes/OWTU; Bertrand "Birch” Kelman/steelband.

I am suggesting that such are these persons’ contribution that their legacies are written in their lifetimes. So I am asking, dear comrade/s reader/s, which you help me by filling in the blanks so others will know what I may have missed. ANR Robinson/, Therese Mills/, Eric Eustace Williams/, Penny Beckles/, Chalkdust/. Or you may have submissions of your own.

OUR FATE IS CLEARLY WRITTEN by Eugene Reynald

posted 9 Apr 2014 11:18 by Gerry Kangalee

Hi Mr. Rudder,

I circularised the following e-mail some time ago to several persons at home and abroad. What it records from the Prime Minister is frightening and ominous. Your recent e-mail/letter to the editor on the subject of a "national conversation" brought it to mind because I cannot see how there can be any national conversation, any semblance of a democracy or any attempt to create a fair and just society, if the position as expressed by the PM and advised on by Anand Ramlogan, is left to stand as policy and the position of her Government.

The Press and other self proclaimed watchdog organisations like the Chambers of Commerce, etc., seem not prepared to make serious and repeated representations against this flagrant assault on their rights and those of the citizenry. This statement by the PM together with that mockery called the Integrity Commission gives us the right to only silently observe while her Government turns Democracy on its head and does all manner of sacrilegious and unlawful acts.

No Law can save us from what these two permit and I have not even factored in the dysfunctional Legal and Judicial System, Statutory Commissions, Universities, the Law Association, the Office of the President and all else.

That conversation just will not begin to happen until 100,000 plus citizens together with members of the protective services take control of Parliament in an act to begin the assertion of the democratic rights of all citizens. Many of greater intellect than any around today tried in the past to hold such a conversation and they all failed.

Today we are in a worse state in all respects than we were then with validating elite that is either non existent or intellectually much less inferior. Our fate is clearly written unless....

ORGANISE TO RE-KINDLE THE FLAME by Rae Samuel

posted 8 Apr 2014 22:38 by Gerry Kangalee

As we prepare to send our team to 2014 Carifta Games, as we prepare to mark the 2nd year of Keshorn Walcott's remarkable and historic achievement, as Jehue Gordon's dramatic win will be re-run over and over on television, all eyes will be on our junior athletes.

They dream and we hope to see another Jehue, Keshorn or Kelly Ann Baptiste emerge. Yes I did say Kelly Ann Baptiste. The doping issue is not the sum total of her athletic career. What makes it more interesting is that Mr. Glen Mills, legendary track coach BEFORE the coming of Usain Bolt e.g. the grand old young man of sprinting Kim Collins of St. Kitts; Mr. Mills has been speaking out about the literal fast tracking of athletes in Jamaica and the effects of 'burn-out'.

His statements come in the wake of record breaking performances in the just concluded Jamaica high schools track and field championships. We read of athletes breaking the records set by the current superstars, Yohan Blake, Sheronne Simpson and Usain Bolt, which suggests...repeat... suggests that these youngsters are ahead of where the seniors were at that time. Alas it does not work like that. It is not linear; it is ebb and flow. There are transitions to make from age set to age set. At the senior level there is much more physical, mental and psychological stress.

The higher one goes the harder one has to climb or fall. A case in point if we look at Darryl Brown and Mark Burns. Brown is/was an inherently more gifted athlete but something seems always to go wrong on the big stage. This is a youngster who was rated alongside Usain Bolt as juniors. Marc, on the other hand, simply seemed to have more savvy and would always turn up in the big final.

But I want to talk about something that I have been pointing out to colleagues involved in track and field development, where I have another life and where Maoist thought serves me very well. Oh you thought Maoist thought was for trade unionism and revolutionary politics? Then it would be 'dogma', which Comrade Mao himself said is worse than cow dung. As in politics, one listens to people, learns from them, makes investigations and arrives at collective goals. Okay, I have been pointing out to the fraternity that we in the Caribbean are now producing ELITE 19 year old athletes: Keshorn Walcott and Kirani James were 19 year old Olympic GOLD medallists.

It means that an Under 17 athlete has to be ready for the big league. Which means he or she has to 'get out there' a little earlier and spend the necessary time. The key to all of this, I am suggesting, is a research oriented revisit to our 'developmental programmes'. Not, as Coach Mills is saying by, overloading the young athlete by simply increasing the dosage, but by “knowing/learning the athlete/student, so one can 'know' a programme suitable for development.” No conclusion without investigation, says the Chairman, who along with his colleagues organised serious sports in the liberated areas during the Japanese invasion. Go read Red Star Over China by Edgar Snow and look at the photographs.

The irony is that we have all the resource, motivation and history to pick up where we left off. Along with the Jamaican model there was the Trinidad/Tobago model which gave us world records and Olympic medals up to late '70's. The Edwin Roberts/Wendell Mottleys/Ian Morrises laid their foundations right here in Trinidad /Tobago. For the record the infrastructure began to crumble because track and field development relied heavily on foreign capital.

The big meets and major clubs were funded by Texaco/Shell/B.P, except that in the wake of the insurrections of the '70's the pirates left. This writer was involved in and was able to witness the power struggle within the administration which led to the collapse of track and field. The major competitions gradually ceased or became shadows of themselves. PNM, in its usual unimaginative way, never saw the need for the state to step in and help to re-organise and assist and the decline has continued.

If mega-projects were the answer we would be the powerhouse in Central American and Caribbean track and field..We have six stadia.. Dwight Yorke/.Larry Gomes/Ato Boldon/Mannie Ramjohn/Hasely Crawford and the original Arima Velodrome. Another mega sports facility is being built next door to the Ato Boldon stadium, even as the Eddie Hart ground and Aranguez Savannah are due for similar transformation. Jamaica, I am told, has one national stadium. Thank Jah they do not have natural gas and oil money and an unnecessarily garrulous Minister of Sport who gets lost in the crowd.

How do we re-kindle the interest, re-ignite the patriotic flame which burns so bright at the Olympic moment and then seems to sputter as rapidly. Success is never an accident and sustainability does not come through 'vaps'. I am suggesting, based on the certainty of knowing of their presence, that the modern generation of coaches, physical education teachers, sports managers, psychologists, therapists, counsellors, trainers, so many of whom are 25-35 start forming collectives within and without your special areas, organise sessions, use the venues and facilities available and ask yourselves: How best can we organise ourselves to re-kindle the flame?

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF COLONIALISM by Ken Howell

posted 8 Apr 2014 19:02 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 8 Apr 2014 19:03 ]

 conquered Trinidad from the Spanish
The British captured Trinidad from the Spaniards who, during their tenure, had already decimated the population of Amerindians, and brought in French settlers from Haiti, Grenada and other Francophone islands with their slaves, and provided them with free lands. This was the situation at the time when the British took control of Trinidad. The British were in charge but the French planters had control of the plantation economy. 
 
Following the end of slavery the ex-slaves, left the plantations and set out to occupy lands, to plant crops, and build communities and as a result they were refusing to work for the planters. Because of their refusal to provide their services, which resulted in a shortage of labour, the colonial powers decided to introduce indentured immigrants into the colony.                                               
 
The colonial masters introduced laws banning squatting and also increased the price of lands in order to make it difficult for the former slaves to purchase lands. It was clear therefore, that although they were set free, in the eyes of the colonial masters and the planters they were not free men and women. And so, every obstacle was placed in their path in order to force them back on to the plantation. It is not clear as to whether the former slaves knew what was the nature of the indentureship contract the Indians had entered into with the planters but it would appear that there was a perception, that they were enjoying better conditions.                                                                                                                                                                             

The system that prevailed for the greater part of the indentureship period (which ended in1917) was that of a five year “industrial residence” followed by a further five years in the colony before indentures could qualify for a return
passage. There was an initial indenture period of three years with a single employer. He then had the option of serving out two one year contracts with an employer of his choice to complete the ‘industrial residence” requirement or he could buy out the remaining two years through paying a lump sum or a monthly tax. 

At the end of this period the indenture could engage in yearly contracts for the next five years or pay an annual tax if he did not re-indenture in order to get the so-called ‘free” return passage. 
 
From 1869 to 1880 the Indian indentures were given land instead of the return passage. This programme involved 2643 households and just over 19,000 acres. The Indians were under indentureship but their working conditions were not much different from that of the slaves. For instance they were restricted to the plantations and if they were found outside of the plantation they were penalized; unauthorised absence, desertion and sheltering deserters were met with jail sentences. 

Notwithstanding these facts, the suspicion has remained rooted in the subconscious mind of the two ethnic groups that there is some historical wrong committed for which one of the groups must repent. When Dr Eric Williams came on the political scene in the 1960s, he made matters worse when he described Indians as “a recalcitrant minority.” What flowed from that attack on Indians, was the fact that Indians who came to town to sell their agricultural produced, were beaten on George Street, where the Market was located.                                                                                                                                                          

Having successfully created the foundation on which the two groups continue to mistrust each other, the exploitation of their labour power presented no difficulty; although from time to time, social upheaval occurred over such issues as the water riots, and so on. Because Trinidad clearly was a place where the population post-slavery, would have been on the boil with the colonial masters not trusting the former slaves or the Indians while the planters who needed a docile work force were breathing down the necks of the Administration.                                                                                                                            

In most of these cases the state was able to suppress them except for the 1937 and 1946 uprisings. This was because the two main ethnic groups were able to come together in their own interest on the issues of workers’ rights and the right to have the vote. The colonial state defused the situation by conceding those rights to the people. What the colonial powers learnt from those two defeats, was that there was an intelligence leading the masses, and they had to work to defeat that new enemy. 

Suffice it to say, that the trials and tribulations which Butler faced, the attack on Albert Gomes, and the subversion of the left in the politics at that time by Dr Eric Williams was all part and parcel of the offensive launched by the colonial powers to ensure that the power of the colonial state was respected and maintained. What they learnt from those two defeats was that the leaders of the movement were not interested in taking political power and so they were able to influence some to come over to their side. That to some extent will explain the conflict between Butler and Cipriani in the Trinidad Working Men's Association. 

Dr Eric Williams solidified that position, when he declared a state of emergency in the sugar belt to prevent oil and sugar workers from coming together to protest against their working conditions in 1965. But in 1970 he was forced, in the face of the failure of his industrialization plans, to concede to the uprising the demands for the nationalization of certain enterprises. He still succeeded in maintaining control, because, the leaders of those uprisings, were only interested in winning limited concessions within the framework of the established colonial order. The intention was never to seize political power by revolutionary means.                                                                                                                                                                                               

Because of this they paid dearly in 1975 when oil and sugar workers decided to march for bread peace and justice. Dr. Eric brought to bear the full power of the state apparatus on the demonstration in San Fernando. Many persons were beaten and arrested by the state police. That day is remembered as Bloody Tuesday. That was the day that the Doctor decided to take his revenge for 1970. He knew that the leaders were not ideologically and mentally prepared to take political power. “He took they height“ as Lord Kitchener would say, and he demonstrated who was the boss. That is why he was able to boast in his book Inward Hunger that he was able to keep Indians and Africans apart. Because he knew that if ever the two ethnic groups are allowed to unite they could change the country for the better. 

Efforts are being made, through the fusion of certain aspects of the two cultures, as is demonstrated by the work being done with soca and chutney, but more needs to be done in other areas to break down the mistrust and suspicion currently inhibiting the ability of East Indians and Africans to come together at the political level to change the political dynamic which is currently favouring the foreign and local capitalist class and their agents. We saw what happened on two occasions in 1986 and 2010 when the right wing parties were able to mobilize the support of the two ethnic groups behind them. It is now history that they won those elections.

And while I was tossing this problem over and over in my head, I came upon two articles in the Trinidad Guardian of March 19th, 2014 on pages 23 and 24 respectively. One by Raymond Ramcharitar, entitled “The Carnivalisation of the Imagination” and the other by Tony Fraser entitled “On Patronage, Support and Benefits” Mr Ramcharitar was lamenting the absence of imagination in our Carnival which is an important aspect of our culture. He wrote: “Carnival is the most pervasive, consistent and loudest message the State transmits. Among other things, it affects the capacity of citizens to imagine, well, anything. If Carnival is the apex of the national capacity for imagining, then our range is minuscule” 

In the case of Tony Fraser, he reminded us that it was the PNM who created the conditions in which depressed areas such as Laventille and Morvant have found themselves. He wrote: “the PNM has created blocs of low-income, no-income and lower-middle-class voters dependent on the party being in government to survive; while the UNC/PP has nurtured and enhanced the capacity of a class of contractors/ business operators amongst their supporters who are now in line to be awarded multi-million- dollar government contracts.” 

What heightened my interest in these two articles was not so much the fact that they both spoke to the question of a lack of imagination and the dependency syndrome so typical in PNM strongholds. My concern was focused on what they said without saying it. It dawned on me that whereas the Indians following the end of Indentureship focused their energies in agriculture and small business, Trinidadians of African descent, whose ancestors were systematically denied the opportunity to purchase lands, concentrated on getting jobs in state institutions. 

This explains to some extent, the Africans’ dependence on the State and the preference of most Indians for business although many Indians found jobs in the public service, as early as the 1960s and to an increasing extent after 1970. But, many of them were working two jobs; either in agriculture or plying a car for higher. In that regard, it would be reasonable to say that they were leaving all their options open. If that is true, then it suggests a certain flexibility with regard to how they view capitalism in this country. The problem however, is that the few Indians who are already very wealthy, are the ones who will benefit from the privatization of state enterprises. 

The same is true for Trinidadians of African descent, who must remember how they were influenced by the PNM to attack the United Labour Front party which was representative of the working class when it was announced that the party was going to march into Port of Spain. The propaganda campaign was that the Indians want to take power and they must be stopped. As a result the leadership of the ULF postponed the march into Port of Spain. 

In the three elections held in 2013 we saw how the race card was played very effectively: in Tobago where the Tobago Organization of the People lost to the PNM and in Chaguanas and St Joseph where it failed to have the same impact. If the election results in the Chaguanas and St Joseph Constituencies are indications that race/ethnicity is becoming less of a factor in the minds of the electorate, the time is not too far off when a real party of the working class can mobilize the workers, farmers and small business around a programme which speaks to the issues which concern them and successfully take power in their interest. Such a situation should certainly excite the mind of Mr Raymond Ramcharitar because it would mean that what was imagined was brought to reality.                                                                                                                                                

In the current situation, where the government, has announced plans to divest/privatize all state-owned enterprises, it is the Afro-Trinidadians who are most likely to oppose privatization although some Indians, who are employees of the State, may oppose it as well, because of their changed circumstances. I may be wrong but in the construction of the colonial state, the foundation for the building of capitalism in this country was laid. 

What keeps that state intact is the false belief held by Afro-Trinidadians that their heritage is secure when the PNM is in power and this is far from the truth. They are yet to come to the realization that it is the PNM who constructed the capitalist state in this country and all the other parties fall in line with the instructions of the foreign and local masters. That is why nothing is done without consulting external sources especially when it comes to making fundamental changes in the way we do things. That is why neither the PNM, the UNC, COP, MSJ nor any of the pro-capitalist parties can or will bring about social change for the better. It is the working class alone who can achieve such change. It is only the working class who can break us out of that psychological bondage.

UNDERSTANDING PENSIONS:

posted 8 Apr 2014 04:58 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 8 Apr 2014 05:06 ]

ARE YOU A MEMBER OF A PENSION PLAN MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE?
ARE YOU INVOLVED IN NEGOTIATING A NEW PENSION PLAN?
DO YOU WANT A BETER UDERSTANDING OF PENSION PLAN ISSUES?

IF SO…READ ON…


Pensions are deferred wages and therefore a vital collective bargaining issue. Despite the importance of pensions for our members, however, many unions struggle with what can be a complex issue. 
 
It is important for the trade union movement to increase the number of activists who can understand pension plans, whether the plan is now being set up or being re-negotiated in a collective agreement. The Labour Advisory Bureau, a non-profit Company, established by the National Workers Union has organised a course designed to develop the skills of union activists in understanding and negotiating pension plans 
 
The Course is aimed at trade unionists who are on pension management committees, are negotiating new pensions plans or simply wish to have a better understanding of pension plans. The course is entitled FROM THE WORKPLACE TO RETIREMENT – UNDERSTANDING PENSIONS 

For more details of the Programme’s course content see here

The facilitators of the course will include veteran trade unionists with over twenty years experience in pension matters. 

Details of the course are:


Date: Friday 9th and Saturday 10th May 2014

Time: 8 am to 4 pm

Place: TIWU Office, 114 Eastern Main Road, Laventille

Cost: $600 (including meal and materials)



Space is limited to 20 participants only and it is expected to be a very intense session.

If you need further information, do not hesitate to contact Ms. Gillian Winter-Roach at the Labour Advisory Bureau Office: 221-2LAB (2522).

If you wish to register for the course check here.

ANNEX T&T? GIVE IT BACK! by Rae Samuel

posted 2 Apr 2014 11:50 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 2 Apr 2014 11:51 ]

All these reports of Cabinet ministers abusing/assaulting their wives, girlfriends and livestock: those of us in the know suspect we may be seeing the influence of a certain high ranking government official who came out of the labour movement. Well, not the livestock part but certainly the woman abuse part. A flurry of anti-woman behaviour running neck and neck with the corporate scandals in National Gas Company and at First Citizens…well Larry's $10m. severance pay certainly seemed to have inspired others. 
 
But that is not what has grabbed my interest. It is an under reported story that has all the elements of a good television drama. It deals with same sex issues, death, pending courtroom bacchanal and foreign relations. It begins with a report in one of the dailies of one of our pathologists at the forensic centre charging his colleague with assault. Normally you find these things occurring in malls, on aeroplanes, near union offices, but hardly ever in morgues.

Then it is usually between opposite genders but this was not sexual/indecent assault but rather the good old fashion kind where protagonists of the same sex scramble and resort to fists. Now I am assuming it was a fight because the matter has reached court. Life is funny, is it not? A man offends a woman, he simply loses his job and people march in support of him around Parliament. A man touches another man, presumably not on his breast, and he has to appear in court and face a fine or imprisonment

So two pathologists: one local the other Russian. I wonder what Lenin or Stalin would be thinking of him... fall out with his co-worker, in the 'dead of morning/mourning?" Details have not been released yet but as I said I am assuming this happened at the workplace and not an aeroplane. And the only women present would have passed on.

Picture this: the good doctors are duke-ing it out with one hollering. "Nyet, nyet, comrade; over my dead body/bodies!!!" In turn the other is ramajaying "When ah dead bury mih clothes..." while holding the other in a lockneck and giving him some good calpet.

Now I too for a moment had some concerns that this matter might reach really far, given the mood Putin is in these days and what has happened in Crimea. But I think any thought of annexation never entered their minds. Again picture this: Rear Admiral Plekhanov: (why admirals are always rear, is it a gay thing?), the Admiral is reporting to their Joint Chiefs-of-Staff

PLEKHANOV: Comrades I am reporting on developments on the matter concerning our late comrade Andropov, stationed on Trinidad.

CHAIRMAN: Sorry to hear that he has passed away. The Fatherland will...

PLEKHANOV: He is not dead Comrade Chairman.

CHAIRMAN: But you just said the late comrade Andropov.

PLEKHANOV: Well he was working in a mortuary.

CHAIRMAN: (sighs) English will never be your first language, comrade. What do you have to report?

PLEKHANOV: In response to the degradation and humiliation meted out to our colleague I have annexed Trinidad and Tobago.

CHAIRMAN: (rising out of his chair) WHAT!! Are you @#amp;+* crazy? Don't you look at T.V. 6, don't you read the Express newspapers, haven't you heard of Jack Warner and of Gary Griffith? Go and hand it back RIGHT NOW. Have you been socialising with their Prime Minister? Jesus Russian Orthodox Christ!!!

But I do hope the matter is settled out of court since we need all the pathologists we can get. Remember this is a country where cause of death is decided by majority verdict. You can die of an asthma attack in the morning, manual strangulation in the evening and remain officially undecided until your tissue samples come back from abroad.

Yes, after 51 years of Independence we still do not know 'how to dead'. Remember the young soldier who was found dead on the parade ground at Teteron barracks. Or the house wife who was found dead in her own home shortly after a police visit? Or the numerous prisoners who imaginatively die in jail or in police custody?

One last word to the doctor Des Vignes: A serious bush bath may be in the offing for you. Your name is already forever linked with another Hubert, one Mr, Volney, through the Brad Boyce matter. I am not a believer in 'blight' but he is politically dead and you are a pathologist so I do not know if some of his contagion might have stayed with you, in some form. This man so 'blight' that the Director of the ILP funeral home from Chaguanas West turn him down. The man political life is over and he cannot even find a final resting place.

Did somebody say MSJ? 

Back to the studio!!!

ICONS: FALSE AND TRUE by Rae Samuel

posted 26 Mar 2014 15:14 by Gerry Kangalee

I came back to Trinidad this morning after spending the week-end overseas, Tobago, you have the pass on or over the water to get there..I half expected to see the attendants in protective gear, but apparently the threat caused by Glen's outreach programme has faded. Boy did he draw a 'bad card'.

The pioneers drew stern criticism..Anil in his crashed and secreted Prado; Vasant.and his Jour Ouvert foot massage; Colin the Zen drunken master. These trend setters were criticised but were wise enough to play humble and lay low for a while and drink at home. But none of them drew the ire of "Mr. Panty line too high'' in the way Glen has.

Now let us be clear why a certain religious leader is calling for Glen to go. It is simply good political sense. With your political stocks so low, with your days in office numbered, you cannot have one of your front liners engaging in such conduct.

It is similar to what happened to Margaret "may she rust in pieces' Thatcher when she proposed the 'poll tax'. Tories marched against her to save the Party. She had become a major liability in much the same way that Glen became a major embarrassment. And it is not easy to embarrass the People's Partnership!

Besides, anyone who goes on Crime Watch to present a defence must be.....tired? But there is light at the end of the cabin/tunnel for Glen. At least no calypsonian will accuse him of befriending goats. And Tobago, from whence he flew, is full of them. A couple were/are in the THA and the rest tethered in pastures around the island. Some gave up lettuce and cabbage, rose to the TOP, and was voted back to green and brown pastures from whence they built their mansions.

And in the midst of the malaise, we lose one of the originals, one of the true icons. Rodney Wilkes, our pioneer Olympic medallist, silver in his first Olympics in 1948 and bronze in 1952. I never met the gentleman but those sportsmen who knew him said he was not easy to deal with. Like so many pioneers he opened the door, others walked through and it swung back on him, They tell me he worked at the sSan Fernando Borough Corporation but it seems he did not become part of any sporting association.

Part of it I imagine was his event, weightlifting. Even now these are seen more as 'grunt/heave ho' events. Back in those days it was easier to enjoy cycling or the prince of the sporting events track and field. We need to note that Rodney won gold at the Pan Am Games, the then British Empire now Commonwealth Games and the CAC games

I always think of people like Wilkes with respect. There were no well funded associations, Olympic solidarity movements or elite programmes. Those athletes would simply have had what the old timers called 'belly”. Their coaches most likely were locals. They travelled on ships, had no entourage. We were not even independent then. I often wonder how the government of the day treated them or how news of their success resonated in Trinidad and Tobago.

Irony of ironies: even as the 1964 Olympic heroes in 4x440 yards were being celebrated, the first to achieve Olympic glory passed away far from an adulation he equally deserved. Will the UNC government honour him accordingly? I hope so. They always have managed to come through where the "black' PNM government fails: a house for Hasely; lifting the ban on Kwame Ture/Stokely Carmichael; assisting the greatest of all time, Slinger Francisco, in his hour of need. At least he was wise enough to fall ill on a UNC watch.

And there is no cable where Rodney has gone, so he won't have to watch cricket. But like Crawford, the common people recognised and accepted him; so San Fernando boy Wilkes will always be with us. Long after Glen has gone!

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