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

PM FAILS TO MEET FISHERFOLK by Rae Samuel

posted 11 Sep 2019, 06:15 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 11 Sep 2019, 06:38 ]

"You can walk on the pavement, but you cannot carry your picket signs." 

"You do not have permission for a demonstration...You have to apply for permission for that.''

"You can stand in the Savannah but not on the pavement.''

"You may not stand in front of the office and hold up the signs.'' 


These were some of the contrary and confusing ‘directives’ given to a delegation comprising Carli Bay Fishi
ng Association, Claxton Bay Fishing Association, Fishermen and Friends of the Sea and the Orange Valley Fishing Association, when they went to present a letter to the Prime Minister at Whitehall around the Queen's Park Savannah on September 7th 2019.

Even the process of presenting a letter to Prime Minister has changed. No longer is it done at the front of the building but rather the delegations had to head North and then turn left onto a side street and then through a gate at the back. The Prime Minister failed to meet the delegations

They had gone to petition him “to embrace our security at sea recommendations” in the wake of a pirate attack which occurred on July 23rd at Carli Bay. The attack left 6 fishermen dead, one of whose body is yet to be recovered. “He was my only son and his body has not been recovered'' said his father at the gathering.

Five vessels were stolen. Although one person has been charged for murder and two for larceny some of the fisherfolk suggest that there are more involved. They also do not want this to simply fade from the headlines since Carli Bay, Claxton Bay and surrounding communities have traditionally been fishing villages where the fishing industry is a central economic activity.

The attacks have effectively crippled the means of livelihood for much of the community. Hence the call on the Prime Minister to set a commission to review the proposals they are putting forward.

SEDITION - THE WAY FORWARD? by Dave Smith

posted 9 Sep 2019, 08:11 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 9 Sep 2019, 10:43 ]

The National Trade Union Centre called a Press Conference at the  Public Services Association (PSA) head office on Sunday 8th September 2019. This was part of NATUC's continuing objections to the charges of sedition laid against Watson Duke, President of the PSA. He was charged under this 1920 legislation on 29th August 2019 for statements allegedly made in November 2018.

In addition to trade unions, there were representatives in attendance from a number of political parties, (not the PNM), as well as radio hosts and other individuals.

Almost entirely the contributions emphasised threats to “freedom of speech” posed by the Sedition Act. Many contributors drew attention to the history of sedition acts in general which could be traced back to 1275 in English law. There was much reference to the history of sedition acts as wanting to maintain the divine rights of the monarchy.

NATUC had written to the Attorney General asking for the Sedition Act to be “revisited”, although it was interesting that all the contributors called for the repeal of the Act rather than its modification.

Rudy Indarsingh, UNC member of parliament, reported that Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had submitted a private member's bill in Parliament to repeal the Sedition Act.

The National Workers Union (NWU) took the opportunity at the end of the proceedings when questions were invited to make the following points:

● that the question of the divine right of kings had been settled in England at the end of the first English Revolution when Parliament cut off the head of King Charles I thus ending the debate with that particular King; there might be some political lessons to be learned from that exercise;

● NWU was the only contributor to draw attention to the class nature of the Sedition Act;

● A simple perusal of the prescribed periodicals schedule, which remains in the Act, highlighted that no periodicals were allowed from the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, or any documents relating to Marxism, socialism or communism.

● In simple terms, the Act was specifically designed to stop workers understanding the exploitative and oppressive nature of the capitalist system and learning about the need for the socialist transformation of society.

● The Sedition Act is part of the armoury of the capitalist class;

● This explains why the Act in Trinidad was initially introduced after the General Strike of 1919 and has primarily been used against trade unionists and others who are involved in struggle;

● There needs to be more positive action than writing letters. Trade unions came from the streets and that, once they were able to mobilise properly, that is where their primary strengths remains.

● The NWU suggested that at the very least there should be a mass turnout when Duke is due to return to the Magistrates Court and that other events and activities should be planned to mobilise for resistance.

NATUC WANTS GOVERNMENT TO REVISIT SEDITION LAW

posted 7 Sep 2019, 08:25 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 7 Sep 2019, 08:32 ]

On September 4th 2019, Michael Annisette, General Secretary of the National Trade Union Centre, wrote the following letter to the Attorney General.

We, The National Trade Union Centre of Trinidad and Tobago (NATUC), call upon you and The Government of Trinidad and Tobago to revisit the Sedition Act Chapter 11:04 of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago. The recent arrest and charging of our comrade Mr. Watson Duke, President of NATUC, has brought forcefully home to the trade union movement as a whole and more specifically the members of NATUC, that the Sedition Act as drafted has the potential to expose all union leaders to unwanted and unwarranted criminal prosecution.

The words allegedly uttered by Comrade Duke are not dissimilar to the normal rhetoric and hyperbole employed by members of the trade union movement. Nor are the words a departure from the normal discourse employed in calypsos which focus on political commentary and satire.

We, the members of the National Trade Union Centre of Trinidad and Tobago have read the Sedition Act and studied carefully its historical background. From our understanding, the criminal offence of sedition and seditious libel emanated out of feudal English Law as early as 1275 with the Statute of Westminster. This was an epoch when the monarchy of England was considered divine and those at the top of the feudal structure could not be questioned.

The British sedition laws were extensively employed in the 18th and 19th century both in England and her colonial possessions. By the year 1977 the Law Commission in the United Kingdom expressed the view that the common law offence of sedition was "ill-defined" and "unnecessary". Lord Denning in his 1984 book Landmarks in the Law wrote that the definition of sedition was "found to be too wide. It would restrict too much the full and free discussion of public affairs.... so it has fallen into disuse for nearly 150 years".

We respectfully submit that the Sedition Act is premised on societal norms and values which are almost half of a millennium old. The legislation is archaic and has no place in the democratic pluralistic society that is Trinidad and Tobago. We look to our Constitution which is the Supreme Law of the land and which guarantees the right of free speech and freedom of expression. We in this country have a culture and a history of free speech which was earned by the blood, sweat and tears of our forefathers such as Uriah "Buzz" Butler, Arthur Cipriani, Adrian Rienzi and CLR James.

We submit that it is a retrograde step in our country's democracy to penalize those who criticise the Government of the day. Criticism in and out of the Parliament is necessary to hold any Government accountable to those who elected them.

We commend to you the words of Baroness D'Souza in July 2009 when the abolition/ amendment to the United Kingdom's Sedition laws came up for debate:-

"The power to express forcefully political discontent is the cornerstone of democracy and lies with the people. Conversely, it is not therefore in the power of government to criminalize this expression. The fundamental of rights of UK individuals would be better protected by removing the offence of seditious libel from the statute book".

The primary role of any government is to protect its citizenry. The genesis of the Sedition Act is to stifle complaints and the dissemination of same amongst members of the public. Is this relevant in the information technology age?

The Sedition Act as currently drafted should be repealed or materially amended. One only has to look at the list of banned publications contained in the Schedule of the Act to be convinced that the entire Act is irrelevant and out of step with 21st century freedoms. Not only are publications from China and the Soviet Union banned but also Labour publications. The Sedition Act has been historically used in this country to stifle popular discontent in the colonial era as well as unrest post 1970. It is unarguable that "massah day done" and that there are civil remedies available to those in Government who feel themselves aggrieved by the words of others.

SEDITION...WHAT IS OUR RESPONSE? by Rae Samuel

posted 31 Aug 2019, 18:19 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 31 Aug 2019, 18:54 ]

SEDITION

So the charging of Watson Duke on sedition charges raises a lot of fear and some ire. The groundswell of protest against this action by the State reminds working people how far the incumbent administration, beleaguered as it is, will go to intimidate the working class and others close to it.

The pattern continues. In the wake of the Petrotrin debacle and other subsequent mishaps the government has clearly lost it way and seems to be governing from crisis to crisis - national security, health, public service/s which is now in the gun sight, transportation, sport and culture. All sense of direction is lost.

The ruling class sees opportunity as the workers' movement, traditionally the front line and vanguard when defending our hard earned freedoms, is at the moment leaderless and rudderless. Thus, they increase their attacks because resistance is segmented and operates in silos. Look at what is happening at PTSC. On a weekend, on a public holiday, the management has decided to suspend bus services. Anyone who does not own a car, who cannot afford maxi fares, will suffer even more. This cannot be a management decision per se. The line Minister must have been advised. As some of the workers are suggesting, this may be another step in the privatisation process.

Where does the answer lie? Where does the answer not lie? It does not lie with any of the existing political Parties. It does not lie with all the fringe formations that have come to the fore in the wake of the political chaos that the PNM and UNC have occasioned. It does not lie with political leaders bleating on talk shows about the Prime Minister not listening to advisory boards on which they sat.

It lies with workers reaching out to each other within and without their workplaces and going around their corrupted leaders, especially ones who may belatedly recognise that no one is about to sell them an oil refinery, regardless of how many times they are easily

KING RADIO SEDITION LAW

fooled.

Other ancient laws will be dredged up. Other antiquated laws will be used against the movement. And of course there is always "The law must be obeyed because it is the law", which is what was said of the laws legalising slavery, religious discrimination, racism, gender bias, cultural repression and freedom of association and assembly. Hell, there are enough laws even without the Sedition Act and the Summary Offences Act, which, incidentally the National Workers Union, years ago, called for its repeal.

It would be funny if it was not so serious, but I remember covering a demonstration by the Steel Workers Union outside the Canadian Embassy 2016 on Christmas Eve. The workers led by then President Chris Henry moved on to President's House to deliver a letter. En route, walking on the pavement around the Savannah, a visibly upset police officer kept saying ''Walk in 2's…All yuh could walk but all yuh cyah march.'' They were not allowed to sing either.

Not all of us will be able to afford $250,000. Not all of us will be able to afford specialist medical care or astronomical legal fees. Not with the cost of school books, transportation, rent/mortgage, food and the like. Each one does what he/she can where he or she is. The silk cotton tree starts with a seed. We have to re-build the mass movement. We survive collectively or perish individually.

JIMMY SINGH TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN by Dr. Godfrey Vincent

posted 29 Aug 2019, 05:10 by Gerry Kangalee

I got to knew Jimmy Singh in the middle 70s during the reorganizing of the ULF fraction under Raffique Shah. Like Jimmy, I was
involved in Community Organizing, and he was par excellent in organizing and mobilizing people in Success Village, Laventille. During his time on the earth, Jimmy understood what it meant to be a servant-leader, and he performed this role with dignity and commitment. Jimmy turned the world upside down in several ways.

First, he truly committed class suicide. In the movement many of the so-called leaders used to say that they committed class suicide and became part of the working-class. They lied and continue to lie. Jimmy Singh had a well-paid job as a Custom-officer and like some of his cohorts, he could have turned a blind eye and engage in corruption, live fat off the hog, build a 14-bedroom mansion, and drive Range Rover.

Rather, he didn’t engage in those activities. Instead, he left his comfortable job, became a small merchant and served the people in Erica Street and the rest of Success Village. He dedicated his entire life to working-class struggle for real transformation.

Second, long before it was fashionable to organize seven-a-side football in Trinidad and Tobago, Jimmy was in the vanguard of that movement. I remember, before I knew him, I played for a team in Erica Street. My friend Stephen McLeod who lived in Erica Street but subsequently moved to Queen Street, Port of Spain recruited me to play on his team. Jimmy understood the power of football, as a tool, in community engagement and empowerment.

Third, Jimmy was s force in the Trinidad and Tobago society where organizing the unemployed was concerned. He became the Butler of his era in understanding how to unite Africans and Indians as a class. This ability to unite the masses to engage in working class struggle meant that Jimmy Singh understood “What was to be Done” in our society to bring about much needed change that dramatically impacted the socio-economic lives of poor people.

I vividly remember that historic day when he mobilized thousands of DEWD workers and the unemployed and they staged a massive protest and demonstration that shook the PNM government to the core. I penned a poem called “Ah wasn’t dey but Ah hear.” I have it some where in my storage. When I find it, I will publish it and dedicate it to the memory of Jimmy.

Fourth, the Jimmy I knew helped many people in Erica Street and surrounding neighborhoods. When people needed food, he supplied. When people where short of funds, he chipped in. When children needed books and school supplies Jimmy assisted. When people needed advice, he offered. When people needed an advocate, he became their voice. When the police terrorized the community, Jimmy placed his life on the line to defend the community. When people needed transport, his vehicle became available. When DWED workers were threatened with retrenchment, Jimmy organized and mobilized them to defend their interest. Indeed, Jimmy was a “Man of the People.”

I do hope, we will continue to celebrate the life of Jimmy Singh. I urge all his comrades to continue his legacy. I also urge studies at UWI, and UTT etc., to engage in an oral history project on Jimmy Singh. We have lost a great community organizer and activist. Let us document his contribution to the struggle. He was one of our working-class heroes.

GOVERNMENT SCORNS PTSC WORKERS

posted 26 Aug 2019, 20:53 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 26 Aug 2019, 20:59 ]

Unease is growing among workers of the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) at the stalling tactics being employed by the State in its failure to begin negotiations for a collective agreement covering the period 2015-2017; even though this negotiation is for an expired period.

Workers, members of the hourly rated fortnightly paid bargaining unit of the Transport and Industrial Workers Union (TIWU), are saying that it is already more than halfway through the negotiation period 2018-2020 and they are still receiving 2014 wages.

On March 24th 2017 the union submitted proposals to the corporation and suggested that the negotiations begin on April 12th 2017. The company did not find the date suggested convenient.

On April 4th 2017 the union wrote the Ministry of Labour seeking an extension of time for what in the legal language of the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) is deemed a breakdown in negotiations for a negotiation that had not yet begun. Who said the law is an ass? This was done to avoid violating the timelines set out in the law.

Nine months later the Ministry replied, acceding to the request for the extension which was granted up to July 9th 2018. On May 10th 2018, more than one year after the request for a meeting to begin negotiations was made, PTSC agreed to meet. The meeting took place at the Cascadia Hotel. At that meeting the Corporation told the union that approval needed to be sought from the Chief Personnel Office (CPO) for the recommencement of negotiations.

To keep within the parameters of the law the union on July 23rd 2018, once again had to seek an extension. The Ministry granted the request in September 2018. Negotiations still have not yet begun.

In August 2019 the corporation advised the union that it is yet to receive formal instructions as it relates to the resumption of negotiations and that, worse, its request for formal instructions from the CPO as it relates to the proposals submitted by the union has not yet been answered.

Now, if this is not a run around on the part of the institutions of state, then nothing is. The management of the corporation, the Chief Personnel Office and the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago which controls the CPO and the PTSC have shown absolute disrespect and contempt for the workers of PTSC and seems determined to make the workers pay for the crisis that has engulfed the capitalist world.

As long as workers in the state and private sector remain disunited in the face of the sustained attacks on their job security and standard of living by the state and the employers, so long will workers continue to be retrenched, suffer pay cuts, wage freezes and loss of benefits. A word to the wise!

A COMPLETE REVOLUTIONARY BY CECIL PAUL

posted 23 Aug 2019, 05:38 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 23 Aug 2019, 05:46 ]

Jimmy Singh was buried on Tuesday August 20, 2019 in his hometown of Success Village, Laventille. The persons at his funeral were 

grass roots people of his community comprised of children, young people, ex panists of the famous Hilanders Steelband, revolutionaries of the 1970’s and former and present Trade Unionists. Two very young panists from Hilanders played at Jimmy’s service. He was working with others to revive the band to again become one of the country’s greatest steelbands.


I met Jimmy in the early 1970’s while campaigning for the United Labour Front (ULF) in the East/West Corridor for the 1976 general elections. He was a member of the Northern region of the party and based on reports was a very valued member. He was a respected activist from the Laventille area. It was reported that he organized sports and cultural activities and represented his community in their struggle for amenities in their area.

We found out that Jimmy was for more than electoral politics. He was an advocate of direct community action, empowerment of the people through their organization and for mass organizations of the people to demand proper representation on a continuous basis. He never spoke about or mentioned his academic achievement. Many of us never knew until his funeral that as a Laventillian he qualified to attend a prestige school, was granted a government scholarship but refused and was a former customs officer.

We knew Jimmy Singh, as an uncompromising defender of the rights of the poor and all working people. Many of us remember his criticism of those politicians who owe their political rise to workers then once in office abandoning the rights and advancement of the working classes. That speech of Jimmy was so stinging that Oma Panday wife of the then newly elected Prime Minister tried to boo Jimmy off the Labour Day stage in Fyzabad without success. That Labour Day speech was Jimmy Singh at his fearless, straight talking best.

Jimmy was a kind and generous revolutionary. I remember in the late 1980’s he was selected to attend a seminar in Czechoslovakia organized by the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). Several months later I was leaving to attend a General Council meeting of the WFTU in the same city in Czechoslovakia. Before leaving Jimmy gave me a sum of US dollars with a letter and an address. He explained to me that he was short of funds at the end of the seminar and wanted to give a gift to the liaison officer - a student who was very professional and helpful to his group at the seminar. He wanted me to deliver this gift to the person. Very few of us would think of doing this thank you gesture. But that was Jimmy Singh thoughtful and thankful.

Jimmy was well versed in the history of the anti-colonial struggles and our working class heroes such as Elma Francois, Jim Barrette and Christina King. He found out from John La Rose of New Beacon Publishing that Jim Barrette and Christina King were still alive and living in John John, Laventille. In my presence at the Council of Progressive Trade Union office (CPTU), Jimmy invited himself to a visit John La Rose was making to see the great working class heroes.

The next day Jimmy requested that the CPTU grant Jim and Christina a monthly pension and that they be invited to all our functions as honorary guests. The CPTU agreed and Jimmy himself would further insist that the best vehicle be made available to take them around. His request was also granted until they passed away.

Jimmy insisted that Jim Barrette’s’s last rites be held at the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Union, as he was one of the founders of that Union. Most of the top people in the Progressive Trade Union Movement were present but Jimmy Singh was not allowed to speak. NJAC openly protested took over the proceedings from the elitist opportunists and opened the proceedings for others to speak. All the big names spoke except Jimmy who had brought back Jim and Christina into the spotlight albeit for a few years. Such was the humility of Jimmy Singh, the Complete Revolutionary, Hero of Laventille.

UNILEVER THROWS WORKERS ON THE BREADLINE

posted 22 Aug 2019, 19:01 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 23 Aug 2019, 03:26 ]

The impending retrenchment of more than 280 workers at Champs Fleurs based Unilever, members of the OWTU bargaining unit is not a tragedy, as one media house put it. It is a continuation by the owners of capital of the drive to make workers pay for the crisis of capitalism that has intensified since the crash of 2008.

For capital, international and local, to maintain their profit levels they are bent on transferring income from the pockets of working people into their pockets. Labour’s share in the value it produces is being drastically reduced in favour of Capital’s share. They argue that this is just business, you know, economics. One noted historian said that economics is the study of how some people push others around.

Readers of this website will recall that as far back as May Unilever had made it clear that the local operations of this giant transnational company were being “restructured”. (See this). This, as Neil McEachnie, president of the local branch of the OWTU says, is a code word for retrenchment. Every member of the OWTU bargaining unit is to be retrenched.

The company has said that it is engaging in “partial restructuring”. It is shutting down its manufacturing and most of its warehousing capacity. This restructuring is going to take place in two phases. The first phase involves the shutting down of manufacturing of liquid and powder detergents in addition to the ancillary services that support it. These services include: CSR in sales, customs, sections of stores and engineering. Warehousing is also to be eliminated. The first phase is expected to be completed by the end of October.

By June next year, the spreads plant which produces fats will be shut down. All of Lever's's food brands had been sold two years ago to a company called Upfield and Unilever Caribbean engaged in a co-packing arrangement with Upfield. On August 1st (Emancipation Day), the Sales and Distribution contract came to an end and was taken over by Vemco.

What is happening is a sign of the future that the capitalists are planning for T&T. They have decided that we must not engage in manufacturing in light and heavy industry (note Petrotrin). Our already acquired skill levels must be eroded and that we must engage in low level service provision – fast food, warehousing, distribution of imported product.

Unilever’s restructuring will not only affect their workers, but will also impact on transport and engineering contractor workers, canteen, suppliers of safety equipment, spares, labels and packaging material. It will also put more strain on the foreign exchange situation and drive down the quality of life.

Unilever workers have to deal with a number of issues affecting their terms and conditions of work. Some of these include the impact on their pensions and health coverage.

It is now open season on workers. Retrenchment is the order of the day Arcelor Mittal, UTT, Petrotrin, TCL, TSTT, Agostini and many others and now the Prime Minister is threatening public servants.

We must stop fooling ourselves that our party card will save us. Red, yellow and non-aligned workers in Petrotrin went home. In the final analysis, you may be a member of a political party, but that party serves the interest of the big shot employers and businessmen whose only loyalty is to the almighty dollar.

If you and Mr. Mouttet or Mr. Agostini are in the same political party, that will have no bearing when they decide to chop off your neck. The politicians may have you in grip, but the politicians are owned by the one percent.

THE JIMMY SINGH I KNEW by Alva Allen

posted 21 Aug 2019, 19:39 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 21 Aug 2019, 20:13 ]

I first met Jimmy Singh in 1972 when I went to attend an Area Committee of NJAC.

Like myself we were both East Indians growing up in different parts of the predominantly African Laventille. But this really made no difference to the people of our communities.

1972 was an important era in our lives. It was a time when coming out of the Black Power Revolution in 1970, many were seeking a way forward to a Just and Fair Society. This led us to be part of a collective that studied Marxism -Leninism. It was this ideological orientation that Jimmy would use to guide him in all his contribution and sacrifices for building a truly independent and democratic society free from the curse of injustice, poverty, hunger, under-development and the exploitation of man by man.

The success of the Cuban revolution in overthrowing an oppressive regime and beginning to build a new democracy, a people’s democracy influenced Jimmy’s confidence in the future. Of course, the similar efforts of the revolutionary masses of China, North Viet Nam, the Liberation struggles in Latin America, the revolutionary movements in Angola and Mozambique all inspired Jimmy to go forward and make his sterling contribution. I must admit that he was particularly enthused by the Naxalbari uprising in India. It was these developments that bolstered his belief that Capitalism is not eternal and a Just and Fair society was possible.

It would be remiss of me if I did not say that it is most regrettable that very early in his journey in this collective he and others were politically victimised at the hands of a tiny political elite in order to pave the way for the rise of maximum leaders.

He won the respect of his community as organiser of the 7-a-side football league that was played in the hole at the top of Erica Street.

He gave up his full -time job in Customs and devoted more and more of his time making his contribution to the forward march of our people for a better quality of life.

He embraced the mantra of DARE TO STRUGGLE DARE TO WIN and feared no one. He was able to organise what was then the DEWD workers (now URP) to stand and fight for equal pay for equal work and permanent jobs. It was this battle that forced the Gov’t to agree to create more work gangs and ultimately more jobs for the people of Laventille. But that was not all.

This struggle would lead him and these workers to turn to NUGFW for Union representation. It was then that Jimmy joined with others in that union like Ralph Haynes and Lloyd Anderson in a long lasting struggle to democratise the Union.

In that era (mid 1980s), the Union’s leadership was elected by the delegate system and not along the lines of one member, one vote. Jimmy’s contribution was not in vain.

I distinctly recall when Jimmy led the famous DEWD workers march into POS to save the jobs of thousands of DEWD workers earmarked for retrenchment by the then NAR Gov’t. This was the beginning of things to come and would be forever in my memory.

It was in 1989 that the trade unions came together and confronted the NAR Gov’t with their IMF punitive measures. The National COSSABO and the National General Councils of the 2 trade union Federations decided to stage a 1day national strike called the Day of Resistance on 6th March 1989. THAT WAS THE DAY WHEN ALL OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO WOULD STAY AT HOME.

Those of us who have fond memories of Jimmy would always remember that pickup van he would drive. It was this van that Jimmy would use all hours of the day and night to make broadcasts for the Day of Resistance.

At that time I was the secretary of the organising committee that was set up by both labour federations and non-aligned unions to mobilise and prepare for this nationwide general strike.

Let it be recorded that Jimmy, like many others, worked morning noon and night mobilising with his van for the strike; handing out flyers, sticking up posters making announcements, holding spot meetings. He indeed made his contribution to the successful nationwide strike. THANK YOU JIMMY. THANK YOU. We stood up, we fought back and we won. Yes, he was an outstanding foot soldier. Man, if we only had 10 more Jimmy Singh now, the 1% would have been on the retreat all now so.

Jimmy was also President of the National General Workers Union, which together with others like Paul Eugene, they had formed to provide representation to unorganised workers when they were dismissed by their employers.

Never one day could it be said that he took a bribe or sold out workers. I must record the fact that he and I had our political differences like everything and everyone else. After all, who doesn’t? But let me call a spade a spade. No one can ever question Jimmy’s love for his Laventille community, the workers he served and the people of Trinidad and Tobago. None can challenge or question the contribution and personal sacrifices that Jimmy has made in the name of a better society for us all.

Jimmy, I know that you are on your way to meet our the legendaries- Butler, Weekes, Joe Young, Ralph Haynes and all the others. You have earned your seat at the Great Table. Rest assured that one day we will all see a truly independent and democratic society free from the curse of injustice, poverty, hunger, under-development and the exploitation of man by man.

COLLAPSE OF TOBAGO HEALTH CARE

posted 17 Aug 2019, 08:30 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 17 Aug 2019, 08:34 ]

Health care w
Agatha Carrington - Health Secretary Tobago House of Assembly
orkers of the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) are begging for someone, anyone, to hear our pleas and cries. Doesn’t anyone care about us? What about the political leader of the PNM, Dr Rowley, the Chief Secretary, Mr Charles? Watson Duke, Denise Tsoi a Fatt Angus, Faith B.Yisrael?

We are right on the heels of a minister being arrested and charged with amongst other things, misappropriation of public funds and misbehaviour in public office. We wonder whether these charges could not be laid against those in charge of the health system at both political and managerial levels. They are both a scourge unleashed unto the TRHA and not far behind is that administrator – “in whom we are well-pleased” – a well-placed joke by now…

MISAPPROPRIATION?

1. Staff gratuities: 9 and 10 years are owing to some staff members, but why? Aren’t these monies released to the TRHA for payment to staff upon the end of their contracts? When did these releases stop, or have they? Are the monies being used for something else? Under whose authority or direction is this being done? There was a first deadline of December 30th 2018; then March 2019. When March came and went no information, no statement! Why? ARE WE NOT DESERVING OF OUR MONIES? Is this how the PNM government cares about us?

2. Are the sums of monies released to the TRHA (on paper) actually reaching the TRHA or are some squeezed back to fund the private projects/recruitments of those in charge of the system?

Moriah Health Centre; Pink Room and soon to be Blue Room, where all the services are duplications from those already offered by ALL Health Centres in Tobago? What about the critically acclaimed Diabetic and Stroke Centre and the Diabetic Foot and Ankle Centre, how many patients have been seen? Is there a cost to the patients for this service? Are the TRHA’s stores being fleeced to supply these areas since there is no separate funding for these projects? What about the million dollar fence in Roxborough, is it completed?

3. We were told that recently the TRHA “found” millions of dollars stashed away in an account. Is this true? How does this happen, what were these funds released for? Who has the books of the TRHA? Who is monitoring? Is this a deliberate ploy to tarnish the names of some and to again try to paint a picture of incompetence in the TRHA? We find it amusing that there are funds to host parties and functions, employ those who those in charge like; start services where there is no allocation or funding, and yet the TRHA is being starved for funds:

a. There is hardly a day when there is enough food to feed the patients

b. We have no gauze

c. We have no inkopads

d. We barely have diabetic medications, metformin, insulin etc.

e. We have no hypertensive medication - patients are becoming non-compliant because they are unable to purchase these drugs over the counter

f. We don’t have ink and paper to print and carry out our normal daily functions

g. A pitiful claim of an expanded ICU, a joke that URP built. Have you with all your knowledge and self-ascribed expertise in healthcare ever heard of anyone having the URP build an ICU? Is it an ICU or just a box with some patient partitions? Who are you trying to kill? Which infectious disease patients will you put in there? Was there any infection control expert consulted on the design for this expansion?

Does the electrical wiring have cardiac protected status? Do you have at least 20 m. squared for each bed space; natural light for the psychological well-being of isolated or secluded patients? Do the air exchanges meet minimum standards? Give us a break. We can’t wait for the ribbon cutting, you, the one in whom you are well pleased, the energizer bunny of a MCOS (and husband), the clowns on 
Image result for tobago hospitalthe board…all proud to deliver substandard care for Tobagonians.

h. Cleaners are mopping the floors with water

i. Bloods are not being taken because we have no gloves

j. We can’t get basic lab tests done for critically ill patients; patients on ICU with no blood work; renal patients on dialysis with no blood work, diabetic patents losing limbs and no blood work. Is this the quality of health care we are to enjoy under your governance? Is this what the PNM government promised to its voters in Tobago? It is certainly sad that the fate of the next election will be placed in the hands of someone who no one elected!! Or will ever vote for!!

k. Cleaners re-cycling garbage bags, bins without bags used to collect waste, boxes on the floor with garbage

l. No air conditioning on the wards. Can you imagine the smell of rotting flesh, faeces, vomit and urine, stewing in this heat? These are the conditions your staff works under. Sheets not being changed for 3-4 days, patients’ sweat and the heat re-infecting wounds. They claim there are funds set aside for AC units, where are these monies, do you really think that managers will have funds to repair the AC units on the wards and not do so, who do you think you can convince of this? If this is so, then Melville and Cyrus should go immediately!!!

4. We have been storing biohazard waste for months now. The Health Secretary, the CEO and Chairman, all comfortable with making us store waste for months. Do people know what are in these bags: human pieces, afterbirth, abortions, products of conception, tissue, cells and biopsies with cancer, HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, a slew of human filth? You expect human beings, Tobagonians, people who voted for this administration to go into these rooms and lift and move and drag these degraded bags whenever the incinerator starts back to work?

Is this how this government cares for its people? None of those incinerator workers should move those bags; you are endangering their health and well-being. But then again I guess you would get McPhee to instruct his daily paid staff to do it. Where is the NUGFW in all of this, oh, we forgot, you silenced them by giving their representative a position on one of the many boards you have established. We wonder what James Lambert or Lydia Peters have to say about this, eat ah food…

5. How many more cases would TRHA have to lose in the Industrial Court? Isn’t this a waste of money that we don’t have? Monies that should be put to providing resources for patient care? We are in court because of unethical, unfair, wrong and downright wicked acts…this is what has been unleashed in Tobago?

There is no development taking place in health. Health has regressed many decades. All the Health Secretary does is hide behind ribbon cutting and establishing new services to masquerade all the shortcomings. What we have described is the reality for all healthcare workers; you, Madame Health Secretary, have presided over this, you, Melville and now Cyrus.

We are wondering for how long Ms Davis and Mr Cyrus would allow their names and professional images to be tarnished by ineptness, nepotism, lies and hatred for people. Who you cannot control or muzzle, you seek to destroy: Ashworth, Learmont, Michelle Edwards Benjamin, Gilliam Pollidore, Angell Second Ali, Susan Bhola, Camille Phillips, Nigel Duke, Janelle Drysdale Job, Martin Thom and the list continues.

This PNM led administration has allowed so many of its people to hurt. Lives have been destroyed and families uprooted. But our votes are expected right? Is anyone going to come to our rescue? Are we the employees going to be forced to make submissions to the Joint Select Committee for investigation?

Someone send this to Gary Griffith and the Auditor General, something is amiss here!

Stay tuned for part 11….

Committed, Concerned, Scared, Hurt, Angry, Bewildered employees of the TRHA!!

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