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BUY OUT? By Laurence Brown

posted 10 Oct 2015, 20:57 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 10 Dec 2016, 11:25 ]

Laurence Brown is a former President of 
the Communication Workers Union
Governments’ attempts to buy out the labour movement is nothing new really, just on this occasion there is an out and out $15M. carrot. Throughout the history of our Labour Movement, various strategies have been employed by the Political Parties aimed at compromising and weakening organized Labour in recognition of its potential strength.

In the early days of the PNM, Dr. Williams in order to influence the popular vote in his party's favour, openly embraced and encouraged unions and their activities. In this regard when Telephone Workers in the then privately owned Telephone Company went on strike in the early 1960's, Dr. Williams when called upon to intervene, stated quite bluntly 'Let the workers strike'. This struck a note with the workers and was reflected in subsequent polls.

From then on with the nationalising of the Telephone Company, Telco and the then Communication Workers Union became a virtual PNM party group, with the then (since deceased) leader of the Union Carl Tull being appointed a PNM Government Senator.

The Doc, master strategist as he was, succeeded in winning over the non-sugarcane Unions to the side of the PNM and so-called Union leaders were rewarded by Senatorial appointments, placement on state boards and sent off as Labour Attaches to varying diplomatic missions abroad.

In 1965 the PNM-controlled Labour Movement was split down the middle when Dr. Williams introduced the Industrial Stabilisation Act and the Industrial Court at the behest of foreign (American) companies invited to set up screw driver industries in T&T. It was the infamous Industrialization by Invitation phase which of course was a disaster.

It was the late President General George Weekes and the powerful OWTU, who broke away from the PNM and along with other Unions like the Transport and Industrial Workers Union (TIWU), formed the Council of Progressive Trade Unions, a split in the labour movement which continues to this very day.

Nothing has really changed since those early days. All Governments in office have utilised every means at their disposal to ensure that the movement remains divided, with many compliant Union leaders settling for crumbs off the table i.e. board appointments, senatorial appointments etc.

In more recent times, the ill-fated Fyzabad Accord (pact with the UNC) and the pre-election 'Understanding' with the PNM is a sad reflection of the lack of self belief by the poor crop of current union 'leaders' and an indication of the strength of the PRIVATELY FINANCED Political Parties, as they step up their common agenda of emasculating the Labour Movement. Whether be it $15M., Board/Senatorial appointments etc, it means one thing, namely: bought and paid for and of course to be sold without notice.