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


posted by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated ]

There is an old Caribbean adage that says "Is de change from the dollar does bring the row'', meaning be mindful of what you say to people lest the response you get is not so nice. Today we heard a certain public official at her inauguration urge Trinis to get to work on time, actually do some work and stay the extra mile. Maybe it is fortuitous that these comments are made against the backdrop of the summary dismissal of twenty five workers at Cadel Trading warehouse over some of these very issues.

Getting to work on time
Get to work on time? Maybe if the State subsidised travel, at home and abroad, gave us police outriders to get our Audis and Benzes to work, then the afore-mentioned official would have a point. But she clearly has not seen or has forgotten what our travel hubs look like on mornings and evenings. Actually do some work? How is water supplied? How is gas processed? By robots? How are the prisons manned or the hospitals run? By aliens?

Now it is ironic that she is saying this, when men and women languish for decades in prison, only to be released by a jury after one hour. Maybe these remarks should be directed to some of her former colleagues in the judiciary, some of whom are seeking extended 'sabbatical leave' to study labour law abroad. Cipriani Labour College, with lecturers of the pedigree of Comrades Alva Allen, Kathleen Davis and Dave Smith, not to mention the distinguished emeritus Dr. Roy Thomas, apparently is not stoosh enough. Is that particular one afraid they might ask him for a house?

The extra mile and do some heavy lifting? Workers in warehouses, factories, mills, hardware stores literally do heavy lifting in environments that do not meet OSHA standards. If injured the process for obtaining satisfactory treatment and later compensation is tortuous and drawn out.

Who in his or her right mind goes the extra mile on a minimum wage or on a wage freeze? Or is working in 2018 on 2012 wages or is forced to work overtime everyday for months at flat rates and are dismissed if they don’t. Does she go along with the 'heavy lifting' imposed on primary school children, via an overloaded curriculum, using discredited models of teaching, while getting bosey back from toting a ton load of books, designed to make millionaires of authors with connections to the Ministry of Education?

Cadel Trading tried to compel workers to work overtime at flat rates and summarily dismissed those who refused. Is this how she proposes that workers go the extra mile? Workers in outlets related to some of these companies, mostly females on minimum wage, no longer receive bonuses for sales made and are subject to arbitrary and capricious disciplinary practices.

They have their NIS contributions deducted and not forwarded to the National Insurance scheme and have to deal on a routine basis with bullying and sexual harassment from those who use the foreign exchange they did not earn to import shoddy goods and boast that they are diversifying the economy when they set up American franchise joints. These workers are urged to get to work on time but their employers are not urged to get them home on time, when their shifts end after ten in the night and they have to face an almost
School maxi drivers went the extra miles and didn't get paid for four months
non-existent nocturnal transport system due to the growing insecurity where bandits rule the roost and police and thief are indistinguishable. And unlike the lady none of them will be working from home, ''over'' or ''under'' time.

So after this latest 'dog and pony show'' as a comrade described it to me earlier in the day, it will be an effort to 'hold the status quo'. In spite of daily mounting evidence of ruin Chief Sabbatical Justice will get his soft landing either at home or abroad. The local representative of the Actors' Guild, the longest running acting Commissioner in the Commonwealth if not the world, will seek to extradite a shooting victim who has sought sanctum in England. Rather than investigate the circumstance of the shooting.

Feminists, masculinists, neutralists, conformists and maybe even dentists will debate the merits of appointing women to high offices. So one must conclude our problems lie not in the failure to transform our 19th century model of development but rather in our inability to grasp that placing women in top positions will solve our problems.

Appoint women as Commissioner of Police, head of Petrotrin, Chief Justice, head of the Central Bank, Commissioner of Prisons, Minister of National Security, head of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association, Archbishop of Port of Spain, Prime Minister (shucks, we did that already), and head of Tobago House of Assembly.

One conditionality though…Shamfa Cudjoe need not apply!


posted by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated ]

Cecil Paul  

Former General Secretary of the Council of Progressive Trade Unions; former First Vice President and Chief Labor Relations Officer of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union; former Deputy General Secretary of the National Trade Union Centre;  chairman of the BWIA Pension Fund; chairman of the national issues committee of Trinidad and Tobago Association of Retired Persons; member of the Labour Advisory Bureau of National Workers Union (NWU) and vice president of NWU.

The following item is the speaking notes of Comrade Cecil Paul at a discussion held at the Alma Jordan Library, University of the West Indies St. Augustine on March 7th 2018. The presentation was organised by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh of the History Department entitled “Empowerment of the local work force: an evolution 80 years strong”. 
Even before the 1937 workers revolution the working class of our country was struggling to empower themselves. Some of these revolts were the water riots, the dock strike, the hosay riots, and the struggles of Elma François, Jim Barrett and others of the Negro Welfare Social and Cultural Association.

However the empowerment movements of 1937 and 1970 were, in my view, the most significant post slavery and post indentureship struggles. Why I say this is because 1937 brought us organized trade unionization and the empowerment to bargain for wages and conditions of employment.

While the British working class enjoyed the right to put a price on their labour, we in this colony had to take what they gave us and under the worst working conditions even akin to glorified slavery without the whip.

Eight years after colonialism ended the local work force again waged a struggle of empowerment, this time in 1970. The issues were the right to employment in the local white businesses and the foreign banks, the promotion of ethnic pride, culture and history, and most important for empowerment over the national natural resources and the control of the commanding heights of our economy.

Those two struggles of 1937 and 1970, in my view, were critical aspects of the continuing struggle for empowerment of the local work force and responsible for the social and economic gains during and after colonialism and independence. This is not to simplify or trivialize the other struggles for universal suffrage, for independence and other struggles our ancestors have waged since we came to theses islands from all corners of the globe in all sorts of inhumane conditions.

Our history tells us that labour has always pushed the society forward - water riots, dock workers strike, 1937 strike, the home rule struggles of labour leaders such as Cipriani, Butler and Rienzi, the 1970 workers’ revolution. 1976 had the oil and sugar workers strike that greatly increased the economic conditions of the local work force. Just to mention the major movement forward of our evolving revolution as a comparable young country.

So these are a few points on colonial, post colonial and post independence empowerment struggles of the local work force that pushed our society forward. so that if we are still in an evolving revolution after eighty years what then are the empowerment challenges the local work f
orce faces? 

1. A low percentage of unionised workers. Some estimate it to be 15 to 20 percent of the local work force.

2. So that the majority of workers some 75 to 80 percent are not organized in trade unions and can be used to destabilize and undermine the 15 to 20 percent organized local work force.

3. Organizing workers into trade unions is an exercise in horror. The bureaucracy is time consuming, takes years and in many cases those wishing to be organized are victimized and lose their jobs so that when the matter is due to be heard most of the workers are dismissed or the company closes down and reopens under a different name. Recently a civil action brought by an employer saw a union losing the right to 
represent workers. 

4. Po
litical interference, nepotism, corruption and inefficiency in major economic enterprises where large segments of the work force is situated have seriously hampered and weakened the labour force through total job losses as with the sugar industry and retrenchment in oth
er key large scale areas. 

5. The vast majority of workers are minimum wage workers in the retail sectors spread throughout the country making it extremely difficult for unionization.

6. The labour movement is very divided. There are now three labour federations. This makes it very difficult for united actions to bring about change and empowerment. Unity, power, influence, a progressive programme and united action making demands in the national interest are major factors in continuing the evolving revolution of 1937.

7. E
mpowerment of the local work force is not empowerment of the leaders. Continuous change is achieved only when there is democracy, workers participation, an empowered secondary leadership and workers participation in decision making. 

8. There must be unity of the labour movement which will unify the local work force. There must be one labour federation, three federations creates disunity of the work force.

9. The recognition process for bargaining status and union recognition must be simplified and democratized. The Industrial Relations Act historically is a tool to weaken the local work force and must be changed through united workers struggle.

10. Trade unions must retreat into joint consultations in a democratic manner with members involvement; develop a programme of policies and actions for empowerment of not the already empowered leaders but also the local work force.

11. Such policies must comprise economic, political, social, educational, democratic and overall development proposals to empower and improve the conditions of the local work force, the majority of who are poor.

Historically the local work force has played the important role as leader of the change movement with ideas, proposals, policies and struggles. Labour has also been the instrument of equity, justice and improvement in all areas of our society.

Our politics, law enforcement, judiciary, family life, schools and education, sporting organization and virtually all areas of institutional governance have been in crisis for the last fifteen odd years. An organized and progressive intervention by a united local work force is urgently needed. Our history demands that labour plays its historical role: restart and continue the evolving revolution of our local labour work force.


posted by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated ]

This article was removed from the web page on 15th March 2018 as we have considered that, unintentionally, parts of it may be considered defamatory. No harm was intended and we apologise to anyone the article might have offended (2018/03/19)


posted 14 Mar 2018, 12:17 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Mar 2018, 01:41 ]

Question: What is the difference between the bandits who pulled off the daylight robbery at RT Jewellers on High Street in San Fernando and the management of Cadel Trading/Francis Fashion Shoe Locker? (download video at bottom of page).

Answer: The former wear three quarter pants; the latter wear jacket and tie. The former stole from the private sector and exposed the customers to danger. The latter withheld workers’ NIS contributions from the National Insurance Board (NIB) and exposed the twenty five dismissed workers to the danger of having no access to National Insurance benefits.

Of the twenty five workers dismissed by Cadel Trading, two have had their national insurance premiums paid up to the end of 2017. The last payments to the National Insurance for the twenty three others were made in 2015.

After the workers were dismissed they visited the National Insurance Office in Tunapuna and got the shock of their lives when they realised that their NIS premiums had not been forwarded to the National Insurance Scheme. The moral of this episode is that all workers should ensure that their NIS contributions are paid up by visiting the NI office.

Do not trust your employer to do the right thing, especially if you are not unionised and you work in minimum wage, retail, fast food, transport firms and other low paid service areas. Failure to remit contributions to the NIS is a widespread practice in this country. It robs the NIB of millions of dollars and leaves hundreds of thousands of workers unprotected.

According to the National Insurance Act (Act 35 of 1971), Section 39A. “The amount of money due and payable by an employee or by an employer as a contribution under this Part shall— (a) be deemed to be held in trust for the Board by the employer; (b) not be subject to attachment in respect to any debt or liability of the employer; and (c) form no part of the assets of the employer in the event of liquidation, assignment or bankruptcy of the employer or his business.”

The Act, therefore, makes it clear that NI contributions from both employer and employee cannot be used by the employer as he sees fit. It does not belong to him. It belongs to the National Insurance Board.

The Act goes on to state: “39B. Where any employer fails to pay the amount of contributions payable by him to the Board under the provisions of this Act by the fifteenth day after the due date, he shall be liable to pay— (a) a penalty of twenty-five per cent of the outstanding sum; or (b) penalty of one hundred per cent of the outstanding sum, where the period for which the contributions were retained, is in excess of five years; and (c) interest on the entire sum (penalty and outstanding sum at the rate of fifteen per cent per annum from the sixteenth day of the following month until payment).”

Based on the above, Cadel Trading owes the NIB substantial sums of money and is liable to pay the outstanding sum, penalty and interest on the combined sum of outstanding monies and penalty.

Section 40 of the Act states: “An employer who fails or neglects to pay or effect payment of contribution in respect of any person in his employment who is required to be insured under this Act, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of four thousand dollars and six months imprisonment and in the case of a continuing offence shall be liable in respect of each person for whom he neglected or failed to pay or effect payment of contribution, a further fine of one hundred dollars a day for each day that the offence continues after conviction.”

The law, therefore, states that the employer is liable, on conviction, to be jailed for six months, which jail term, on reflection, is much too light and should be increased. If the jewel thieves were to be arrested and convicted (fat chance), you think they would only get six months? 

When Voice called for fire to bun the street level bandits, we all applauded. Let us not discriminate against the one percent!


posted 14 Mar 2018, 08:03 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 14 Mar 2018, 08:21 ]

David Walker
I vividly remember the bold utterance of Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe sometime shortly after the last election. In a missive to the opposition and detractors she declared “We in charge now!”. Listening to the goodly lady and her colleague, the Chief Secretary of the THA last week, I had to wonder whether they understand that being in charge has two sides.

You get to run things, spend money however you decide, enjoy trips to “promote tourism” etc. The corollary is that you get praise or blame according to outcome. You own the results of your actions. These

Shamfa Cudjoe

 two politicians who are most responsible for Tobago’s affairs seem from their statements not to understand that they are the ones to be held responsible.

Here is a report on the views of Ms Cudjoe on the catastrophic state of the sea bridge - “Tourism Minister and Member of Parliament for Tobago West, Shamfa Cudjoe, also used parliamentary time to disparage her fellow islanders, the Tobago Chamber of Commerce and “fake” businessmen who have criticised Government’s management of the sea bridge that led to the protracted crisis. Those people don’t care about Tobago, she boldly concluded, and they are killing Tobago’s entrepreneurial spirit.”

Not to be outdone there was Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles reportedly going even further when he characterised the unreliable sea bridge service as a benefit to Tobagonians, whom he described as having a “propensity to lament”. His evidence of the gain for Tobago was one man who planted lettuce.

Clearly these two leaders feel no sense of responsibility for our current state of affairs. In fact they seem to suggest that complaints are not justified. The malaise that we all see is a figment of our imaginations. Where we on the ground see problems, they see opportunities.

The lack of imported food items is a wake up call to us to go back to the land. And the absence of a reliable boat is somehow the fault of “fake” businessmen and our propensity to lament. Soon we’ll be told to applaud the potholes in the road as they keep drivers alert. Of course the regular absence of water in the pipe is really an opportunity to embrace modern technology via an expensive desalination plant.

Kelvin Charles
I beg to differ. The manifest problems arising out of the collapse of the sea bridge are real and far reaching. Every resident of Tobago is the poorer for it and is affected by it daily. These leaders clearly do not understand the extent of our reliance on what should be a reliable, efficient service. We count on it not just to stock our shops but to facilitate medical appointments, journeys to and from work, visits to family and so much more. We shouldn’t have to explain this to the Minister and the Chief Secretary but evidently we do.

It is a travesty that those who should understand and champion our interests should instead speak in such a clueless manner about our predicament. Serving our interests should be their goal but clearly it isn’t. Blaming the victims is perhaps the most cowardly refuge open to them but that is the one they choose.

If blame is to be apportioned surely they should be looking at each other and themselves. They are in charge, remember. I am yet to hear a word of criticism from the THA about the failure of  central government or vice versa. Between them they hold all the levers of power and have not been shy in telling us how closely they work together. We were led to expect improved performance as a result of this great working relationship. Instead we have had chaos with no sign of remorse or acceptance of their failure to look after the citizens.

Looking forward it is difficult to be positive. We know that resources will be more limited than during recent years so we should perhaps expect further deterioration in output. After all, if they could not deliver in times of plenty, it would be foolhardy to expect better in the lean times ahead of us.

Image result for tobago sea bridge break downBut more fundamentally than that, there is the real problem of lack of ownership and recognition of problems to be addressed. By belittling the extent of the problem and also passing it on to the citizens, our leaders are warning us not to look to them for solutions.

We’ve been here before with Tobago affairs. Having been criticized for failure to procure clean audited statement for more than ten years, the Chief Administrator excused their failure in Parliament by putting the blame on recalcitrant staff. It is never the leaders. They have no qualms about throwing their staff, the business community and the citizens under the boss when called upon to account for their failed stewardship.

I have often criticized the oversized footprint of the THA within the Tobago economy, such as it is. Because of that it is exceedingly difficult for the private sector and our citizens to lead us out of this morass that extends to all matters Tobago. The THA has over the years extended its reach into all manner of activities that starved other players of economic space. They can hardly now complain about the weakness of the private business sector.

Yet that is where our salvation surely lies. In the face of all the difficulties posed by an economically dominant and suffocating THA, our small and medium sized businesses must step forward to fill the breach. We have to change our approach as waiting for THA or our erstwhile Minister of Tourism to do so will place us in further jeopardy. We are talking boldly about internal self government in the near future. We delude ourselves if we think this THA administration is about to bequeath anything resembling a buoyant economy to the control of whoever holds the reins when power is transferred. We must begin to address our problems now.

There is only so much that businesses and citizens can do without the support and participation of our leaders. We must therefore ensure that we do everything that limited power. The future of Tobago depends on us. They’re in charge but they do not accept responsibility.

d.walker@alcindorwalker.com and www.straighttalktt.com


posted 7 Mar 2018, 21:01 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 7 Mar 2018, 21:23 ]

CEO Sean Hadeed
Twenty five workers employed with Cadel Trading of 36 Tissue Drive, New Trincity Industrial
Operations Manager Arund Ramlal
Estate, were dismissed by the company by letter dated 7th March 2018 signed by Operations Manager Arund Ramlal. Among the dismissed are twenty warehouse attendants and five drivers. Many of these workers are remunerated just above the minimum wage.

The normal working hours for these workers is 8am to 5 pm, but since November they had been working overtime which, of course, has subjected them to continuous stress and has interfered with their family life.

On Monday 5th March, workers informed their supervisor that they wanted to leave at the stipulated knock off time (which is their right) and were told that they could do what they wanted.

On Tuesday 6th March when workers reported for work, they were prevented from entering the compound and were, in fact, locked out. There was a list at the gate indicating which workers were to be prevented from taking up duty.

Rightly incensed, the workers contacted the National Workers Union. President of the Union, Dave Smith, then wrote the following letter, dated 7th march 2018 to the Human Resources department of the company.


“We are aware of some 25 or more workers currently locked-out from your Warehouse in Trincity. There appears to be no explanation for this which is clearly contrary to good industrial relations practice and, if our information is correct, will be an industrial relations offense under the Industrial Relations Act.

We are requesting:

● the immediate return of these workers to their employment without loss of pay;

● an explanation of exactly what is behind the employers lockout.

We will be reporting this matter to the Industrial Court unless we can receive a confirmation that the workers have been allowed to return to work immediately without loss of pay.”

On the same date (7th March), the company dismissed the twenty five workers and have already started to advertise for warehouse attendants and drivers.

Many people would not be familiar with the name Cadel Trading which is the warehouse arm of the company Cadel Trading and Knights Investment Ltd. It owns and operates what is reputedly the largest chain of retail stores within Trinidad and Tobago - Francis Fashions Shoe Locker. It sells clothing, shoes, accessories and sporting equipment with over (30) locations nationwide. The retail chain also includes stores like Guess, Puma, Kenneth Cole, Adidas & Got Shoooz.

The Chief Executive Officer, Sean Hadeed, comes from a well known family which is a leading family in the infamous one percent. Unlike ex-UNC Minister Gerry Hadeed, Dominic Hadeed of Blue Waters fame and former PNM Vice President of the Senate and Mayor of Arima George Hadeed, he keeps a low profile. Sean Hadeed is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Gulf City mall in La Romaine.

The one per centers in this country, who produce nothing, but utilise a vast amount of the foreign exchange which they had no hand in earning to import cheap goods and sell at high marked up prices, really hold working people in total contempt and think nothing of destroying families if workers are bold face enough to insist they be treated with respect and dignity. FIRE GO BUN DEM!


posted 2 Mar 2018, 06:15 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 2 Mar 2018, 06:16 ]

Reading the “Tobago Today” supplement in the Guardian Newspaper on March 2, 2018, I came across an article that had a particularly disturbing quotation from a “holy man” that can basically sum up the systematic failures in our institutions today; this is in my opinion.

The quote went “Back then there were two classes of people-the free and the enslaved. Even the two leading denominations had slaves. Don’t hold it against them, because that was their understanding of life back then.”

(Reverend Philbert Delaney (at the event themed-Celebrating 200 Years of Methodist Heritage: Taking Flight and Transforming Lives).

This quote by Reverend Philbert Delaney, while he “reminisced” about the beginnings of the Methodist Church back in 1818, seems to say that slavery was no big deal; that Methodists of the time should be forgiven for the practice of owning slaves because it was the norm, is simply ludicrous to me.

What is perhaps more insane or inane about the statement by Reverend Delaney, is the apparent endorsement of some sort of messianic parameter in the slavery of Africans and the indigenous people of the so-called West Indies.

The interpretation of that quote seems to say that the people who endured the barbarism and torture at the hands of their colonizers, was some sort of spiritual cleansing ritual to cure the unholiness of “the uncivilized heathen”. When we subject ourselves to that type of thinking, it suggests why we are unable to rid ourselves of those deleterious ideological remnants of our colonization in the Caribbean.

It should be noted that the push to abolish the slave trade which started the eventual end of slavery was initiated by a group of Methodists lead by William Wilberforce in England. But, to excuse the immorality of the church and the part it played in supporting a commercial system that ripped families apart by abduction, rape, torture, barbaric scientific experimentation, is a travesty to say the least.

Imagine, Stan Lee of “Marvel Comics” made an Africa without colonization popular with the release of the “Black Panther” character back in the 1960s. I dare say that that is a better attempt of an apology for the role his ancestors played in the brutal enslavement of my ancestors.


posted 1 Mar 2018, 05:47 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 1 Mar 2018, 05:52 ]

Is Unity a means to an end, or an end unto itself? It is a tactic or strategy with historical limitations, or a principle that cannot be compromised?

There are various forms that unity can take. Some are tactical, some strategic and some are principled. Strategic unity such as a Patriotic Front is entered into for the purpose of defeating a common enemy or completing a particular stage in a people's struggle.

This is similar to the unity of the Zimbabwe African National Union and the Zimbabwe African People's Union resulting in the ZANU-PF it was a political and military alliance developed to defeat white minority rule in Zimbabwe. The goals of this alliance were further expanded to form a ruling party to govern independent Zimbabwe.

In Trinidad National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) joined with United National Congress (UNC) and other Parties to challenge the People's National Movement (PNM) in the national elections. Once this objective was reached the unity began to fall apart. While in Venezuela 26 regional Socialist Parties came together to form a national Party, PSUV, to defeat a fascist neo-colonial party and pursue the revolutionary transformation of society.

A coalition, and even a mass movement, can be described as a form of unity designed to achieve a minimal goal such as civil rights, policy reform or social equality. These employ tactics such as marches, boycotts and other limited actions. Unity of this type is temporary and can include forces who may otherwise be in opposition to one another or who have differing overall allegiances and aspirations.

Many mass movements were formed to combat colonialism. Some entered into these coalitions to empower the people while others sought to defeat colonizers in order to replace them and establish neo-colonies. They share the limited objective of defeating colonialism even though their reasons for wanting to expel the foreigners were quite different. The civil rights movement in the USA was also this type of tactical union. Those involved in these unions shared a common enemy but were informed by different aspirations, allegiances and long term objectives.

It is however, incorrect to say that all unity is temporary and or tactical, for the unity of the masses is in fact based in the principle of the primacy of the mass. This is the unity of the working classes, the unity of the oppressed and the exploited. This sector, composed of the youth, women and working masses with their shared aspirations, history, culture and struggle is what has been deemed the people's class.

It is opposed by the imperialists who exist as both external enemies and internal traitors to the people's cause called the anti-people's class. This type of unity poses the people against entrenched social economic systems which they seek to destroy. It seeks to abolish capitalism and imperialism for the purpose of establishing socialist societies aimed at meeting the needs of the broad masses of the people on a more or less permanent basis.

This unity of the people's class is principled and is not subject to compromise unless it is to be abandoned. Ethically it is based on the principle of egalitarianism which recognizes that we are each an end unto ourselves and not merely a means to the ends of others. It opposes elitism and upholds the conception of the inherent value of each human being.

Principled unity accepts that the condition for the development of each is the development of all. This is the Unity of the mass with itself. This is a mature conception of a people who are aware that they contain both positive and negative aspects and seek social development by upholding the positive and engaging in permanent struggle to decrease the impact and growth of the negative aspect of themselves.

All other forms of unity are merely means to an end. But the unity of the mass is both a means to an end and an end in itself. It is a means to an end because it directs the people's actions toward the achievement of our collective aspirations. It is an end unto itself because it alone can create the permanent conditions for our collective development.

Idealist philosophy holds positive and negative action as separate things that exist in conflict with one another. While the idea of conflict of opposing forces is correct, the process of engagement between the conflicting forces is in fact quite concrete.

Positive and negative actions are two aspects of the same thing and while each has internal and external realities these are interconnected and interrelated realities. For example imperialism is an external phenomenon. But imperialism has always had collaborators who exist within the people and work against the interest of the people. Similarly while resistance is primarily the consequence of the people's internal dynamic it has always had elements that are external which align with it and in fact fight on the side of the people.

Thus we see that there is positive in the negative and negative in the positive. Understanding this dialectic is the key to maintaining the permanent unity of the people in the fight against the people's enemies, the anti-people.

Finally tactical and strategic unity is a question of political expediency. People enter into these coalitions to achieve objective that is limited in time (temporary) and limited in effect (generally to reform existing systems). On the other hand principled unity is entered into as a matter of survival, that is to fight genocide, to end exploitation and inevitably to transform society. Tactical and strategic unity is useful. For African people everywhere, principled unity is a historically determined necessity.


posted 28 Feb 2018, 01:39 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 28 Feb 2018, 01:42 ]

Dave Smith, President of the National Workers Union, sent the following letter, dated February 24th 2018, to all unions. 


On 14th December 2017, the High Court handed down a judgement brought by RBC Financial (Caribbean) Limited against the Registration, Recognition and Certification Board on the question of the Certificate of Recognition issued by the RRCB to the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union. This judgement quashed BIGWU’s Certification for the workers at RBC Financial (Caribbean) Limited and in the process dealt a major blow to the ability of unions to organise workers.

The judgement focused on three critical areas:

1. The application of Section 34(3)(b)(i) of Industrial Relations Act (IRA), which is about “member in good standing”;

2. Issuing Global Receipts and Good Accounting Practice;

3. The employers right to access to Union Records so that they can check membership  in good standing.

Essentially, this judgment requires unions to organise and collect union dues in the eight (8) weeks immediate prior to making a claim for recognition. This represents a major practical challenge to the ability of unions to organise - particularly in large bargaining units. In the face of these major obstacles to organising, it could well be argued that Trinidad and Tobago is now in breach of ILO Conventions 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise and 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining .

This development opens up both a challenge and an opportunity:

● The challenge is how unions now respond to the immediate implications for organising posed by this judgment;

● The opportunity is that it raises the possibility (again!) of raising demands about amending the IRA. This means that the trade union movement will need to develop what it would want to see as an alternative to the current legislative arrangements for obtaining recognition.

In light of the above, the National Workers Union is calling for a meeting of all Trade Unions to discuss the issues raised by this judgment, and particular the two points referred to above.

This is an issue on which the three trade union Federations need to convene a joint meeting to discuss where this judgement leaves the trade union movement and its ability to effectively organise workers.

The National Workers Union therefore calls on all three Federations to take the initiative and convene a joint meeting of all trade unions to discuss the way forward as a matter of urgency.


posted 23 Feb 2018, 05:24 by Gerry Kangalee

Image result for ema trinidadThe naked corruption, which not even a Procurement Act that is expertly crafted can prevent, stands exposed since the State has already provided an escape route through an organisation known as the Environment Management Authority (EMA).

The EMA has the power to grant Certificates of Environmental Clearance (CEC). What is interesting, but also strange in this case, is the fact that the EMA has designated the Aripo Savannah an Environmentally Sensitive Area. It is deemed a strict scientific reserve. This means that there is a variety of very rare animals, birds, plants, and other life forms existing in that Savannah that must be protected at all costs. The EMA, which was formed in March of 1995 in accordance with Act 3 of that year, signalled the fact that our government had acted in compliance with the United Nation Conference on the Environment and Development 1992.

That Conference dealt with resolution 44/228 of 20 December 1988 and was held in Rio de Janeiro from 3-14 June 1992. It was known as the Earth Summit and also as the Rio Conference. It was in that Conference, the decision to form the Commission on Sustainable Development was taken. The decision to set an agenda, which was called Agenda 21, a global plan of action to promote sustainable development, along with a statement of Forest Principles; a set of principles to underpin the sustainable management of forests worldwide.

Our government by its actions relative to that Savannah is faking ignorance with regards to its obligations under these Conventions of the United Nations.

But who is behind the alleged destruction which the FFOS is seeking to prevent - The Ministry of Works infrastructure and Transportation. Under the leadership of that Ministry a four lane highway is to be constructed along the route where the Train line was once located. This was all part of a major infrastructural development plan unveiled by the PNM for the development of the East West Corridor since in the days of Dr Eric Williams.

It resulted in the development of the Priority Bus Route to Arima, the construction of the Maloney Housing Estate, the La Horquetta Housing Estate, as part of that plan. Since that time, environmental occurrences conspired and created circumstances which influenced decisions of the UN demanding that measures to protect the environment in order to ensure and promote sustainable development, must be taken.

As a result organisations such as the EMA were formed. One would expect that having signed these treaties and having established an organisation such as the EMA, a government would avoid being perceived as not honouring its obligations.

When one is forced to form such a perception, it also leads to questions as to why a government would act in this manner. Could it b
Image result for aripo savannahe that there are vested interests lurking in the shadows who are likely to benefit from the construction of that highway? If that is proven to be the case then we must raise our voices in protest. If voices are not raised in defence of the environment, the destruction of such treasures as the Aripo Savannah will go unnoticed, because the wild life which inhabits these wetlands cannot speak in their defence. But when we speak, we must also be mindful of the possible hidden reasons behind decisions taken to implement infrastructural developments in areas where economic activities are currently absent.

Could it be that influential elements have an interest in lands located in that area or is it another situation in which questions could be raised over the fact influential elements are likely to benefit financially from this project. Perhaps by realising an exorbitant increase in the price of land located along the route where this Highway is likely to pass. It would be interesting to know the elements who have the ears of the government and who as a result might have already purchased lands located along that route.

With such a possibility under consideration, that kind of information would help to explain why the Ministry of Works by application #5070/2017 applied for and received a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) for the establishment of Phase1 Package2 for the proposed Cumuto to Manzanilla Highway, consisting of one interchange and 300 metres of highway alignment at Cumuto and a nine Kilometre highway alignment with associated infrastructure

One might appear to be wise because of one’s ability to take advantage of opportunities which places financial benefits at one’s disposal. But knowledge tells you that such opportunities are meaningless when it comes at the expense of the opportunities lost because of one’s short sightedness. The short sightedness of the government in this regard betrays the decision to disregard its obligations under the Treaties which it signed

It is the policy of the adherents of neo-liberalism to ignore established rules. It is in their belief system that there must be no rules to hinder their ability to act freely in the pursuit of their fortunes. In small developing countries such as ours these objectives are pursued under the protection of the State. This is achieved through questionable infrastructural development which serves to advance the objectives of the disciples of the capitalist doctrine of neo-liberalism.

We must raise our voices in protest against the destruction of our environment; whether it is against illegal quarrying, the indiscriminate dumping of waste and the destruction of our youths through the sale of illicit drugs which creates an environment of death and the recurring self-destructive consequence and trauma which the families of the victims experience. We cannot and must not continue to sweep these issues under the carpet. History demands that we must take a stand in support and defence of the environment. Let it not be said that we did not care about conservation.

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