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posted 8 Mar 2016, 01:46 by Gerry Kangalee
On March 3rd 2016, Joseph Remy, Secretary General of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), issued the following statement:

The Communication Worker’s Union, (CWU), would like to publicly express its deep concern about the current state of our beloved Country, Trinidad and Tobago. On a daily basis, it seems apparent that we are sinking further and further into an irrecoverable abyss whilst ordinary citizens and persons of modest means are slipping further down a slippery slope of social and economic degradation and despair.

We wish to posit up front that as a Progressive Working Class Institution, we pride ourselves on our unwavering independence and concern for our country and the National Interest. So, consistent with the recent decision taken at our last Annual National Convention, we commit to uphold the Butlerite Tradition of Trade Unionism and as such vow to relentlessly pursue the creation of a just and equitable society where the provisions of the Preamble of our Constitution are upheld unfailingly. For the record, we wish to once again remind the citizens of those beliefs that should guide our country on its path towards equity and social justice.

Our Constitution states that ”Whereas the People of Trinidad and Tobago:

a. have affirmed that the Nation of Trinidad and Tobago is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God, faith in fundamental human rights and freedoms, the position of the family in a society of free men and free institutions, the dignity of the human person and the equal and inalienable rights with which all members of the human family are endowed by their Creator;

b. respect the principles of social justice and therefore believe that the operation of the economic system should result in the material resources of the community being so distributed as to sub serve the common good, that there should be adequate means of livelihood for all, that labour should not be exploited or forced by economic necessity to operate in inhumane conditions but that there should be an opportunity for advancement on the basis of recognition of merit, ability an d integrity;

c. have asserted their belief in a democratic society in which all persons may, to the extent of their capacity, play some part in the institutions of the national life and thus develop and maintain due respect for lawfully constituted authority;

d. recognize that men and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values and the rule of law;

e. desire that their Constitution should enshrine the abovementioned principles and beliefs and make provision for ensuring the protection in Trinidad and Tobago of fundamental human rights and freedoms;"

From all indications, the happenings in sweet Trinidad and Tobago on a daily basis, clearly demonstrates that we have deviated fundamentally away from those noble ideals as envisaged by the framers of our Constitution. Crime is spiralling out of control and we are witnessing a spiralling murder rate where killers are gunning down citizens with impunity, flying in the face of our protective forces.

They continue on their rampant murder spree unabated, principally because the detection rate for serious crimes, inclusive of Gun Running, Drug Peddling and Murder, are tottering ashamedly at zero percent (0%). The latest murder of a Prison Officer as well as the recent murder of a citizen in broad daylight in the view of the general public is testimony of the brazenness of the killers.

Our Education system is now churning out the produce of a flawed foundation. The class divisions and winner take all syndrome that creates elite students and further entrenches Prestige Schools is now more exemplified. The natural fallout from this system is dysfunctional behaviour which is now manifesting itself in school indiscipline and school violence.

Our Economy seems to be aimlessly heading in no clear direction at all. We were recently faced with adjustment in the VAT system, which from all reports, has only placed further hardships on the ordinary citizens as food prices have raised astronomically. The Foreign exchange situation is at a crisis stage, where we are seeing persons unable to even access funds from their foreign dollar accounts, while remittances to and from the Diaspora are stuttering to a halt. We have a wide gap between Revenue and Expenditure with the ominous sign of further economic hardships hanging over the heads of ordinary citizens.

Our lack of foresight in any diversification away from the commodity and energy mania has placed our country in a disastrous and precarious state. While all these things are obvious to us and the ordinary citizens, there seems to be no clear Vision, Governance and Leadership solutions to our crisis emanating from our Political Directorate.

On the Political Front, while there was a welcome change of Government by the majority of citizens in September 2015, six (6) months into a new Government, it seems that we are at a stage where the Proverbial statement that 'while Rome is burning, Nero is fiddling", is the best way to describe the ”State of our Nation" at this time.

Certain appointments to State Boards and critical Committees have sent clear signals that we were heading for another Political ride with an Exchange of Players but no Change in Policy. The notion of nepotism of a different nature has begun to take root, particularly in Key State entities where we have observed that certain persons occupying key Board positions are at the same time being placed on the Economic Advisory Committee, the Energy Sub-Committee and the Committee to review the operations of State Enterprises inclusive of the Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago, TSTT.

Our fears have now been further deepened by the latest public announcement by the Government that they have taken the decision to exonerate the former Executive Director of PETROTRIN, Mr. Malcolm Jones from legal action relative to the Billon Dollar disaster, the World Gas to Liquid Plant WGTL, which cost this country Billions of Dollars.

For the avoidance of doubt, the CWU wish to remind the country that we were at the forefront in the call for those who engaged in corrupt practices to be brought to swift justice. We publicly called for those who would have perpetrated open and obscene acts of misbehavior in public office and abuse of state resources during the reign of the nefarious People’s Partnership Government to be charged and brought before the Courts.

We are somewhat concerned that after six (6) months in office, after the clear public commitment by the current Government to prosecute those who would have committed such acts against the state to be brought to justice, we have not yet seen one single case of anyone being charged and hauled before the Courts, except to observe the freezing of some assets of SIS Limited, which is now being challenged legally.

This current development as it relates to the exoneration of the former PETROTRIN Boss without the opportunity for the Court to make a decision sends chilling signals of partisan politics, since Mr. Malcolm Jones was one of the early appointments to the Energy Advisory Committee by the current Government. Further, it must be noted that officials and known supporters of the present government were on the legal team representing Mr. Malcolm Jones.

In the circumstances, the CWU is not satisfied with the reasons advanced for this action since we believe that after campaigning on the pillars of transparency and integrity, it would have been more prudent for the Courts to decide whether Mr. Jones was guilty of abdicating his fiduciary obligations which saw the Country lose Billions of Dollars on a failed energy Project.

The CWU is deeply concerned about the "State of Our Nation" and as such wish to renew our call for the engagement of the much needed and long outstanding Tripartite Discussions that are absolutely necessary to ensure that there is an equitable framework for any adjustments which may be needed to bring us out of this morass that the Country is in at this time. We are clear in our view that the chips must fall where they are supposed to fall no matter what is the political persuasion.

The CWU vows to speak out on issues of national importance to ensure that the Working class and less possessed in Society are not trampled upon in this crazy free-market and capitalist driven economic system that continues to make fewer people richer and billions poorer.

For that we will always dare to struggle!