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posted 10 Aug 2017, 08:59 by Gerry Kangalee
So following the protest in downtown Port of Spain the trade unions are being invited to re-join the tripartite process: a process which has consistently failed to produce labour legislation reform, moves to ensure speedy resolution of labour disputes or brought about a halt to the scourge of contract labour throughout the work force.

It is much like the abusive partner inviting the other to return home because 'we can make it if we try'. Never mind that this 'trying' consistently leaves one partner in a continually declining and wretched state amidst the 'ongoing dialogue'

This invitation to return to this Hyatt table of endless horn comes from yet another labour leader turned minister, Prime or otherwise. Acting on behalf of the true 'owners' who have now come out of the shadows, the Minister is a minion and we should not bother too much with what she says. Her interventions on behalf of labour, from the matter of the steel workers right down to that of the workers at the Tourism Development Company, are pretty much a train wreck.

Labour leaders do not seem to have worked out a clear plan going forward and are clearly not playing from the same music score. The platform at the rally was all over the place, with speakers trying to outdo each other, seemingly more concerned about sound bites than about protecting the interests of the working class.

This, ironically, may have frightened the ruling class. They would be asking themselves how to and whom to put in grip? What inducements to offer and to whom? This is why the present Minister would be tasked by her handlers to have her former 'comrades' return to the status quo. Of what use would she be otherwise?

The labour leadership itself must break the cycle and stop issuing inane calls about who will pay a political price. It is empty rhetoric and reveals a bankruptcy of ideas. It does not aid or comfort the thousands on the breadline within or without unions. How strongly these worn out threats are supported within the JTUM/NATUC/FITUN is not well known, however to not challenge them from within is NOT protecting labour unity. Rather there will never be a working unity as long as such matters are not debated and cleared up. No individual leader or union is larger or more necessary than another.

Economic boycott of certain sectors of the business class can be an effective tactic, but it has to have a precise objective and be well organised. The objective of the “boycott” is unclear and seems to be just a call from the platform. Cute talk about doubles and roti are, frankly, playing smart with foolishness and taking people for idiots. 

There is a lot of talk about the one percent, but precisely who is being referred to is not clear. Are all capitalists being boycotted? If so, then we have discovered a new method of revolutionary struggle – eating doubles to bring down capitalism! But the one percent does not only deal in fast food. Check out who imports potato, channa, cheese, refined sugar, maize, chicken meat, infant food, whole dried milk, hen eggs in shell, beef, lettuce, tomato, pigeon peas, cassava, sweet pepper, beet root, black eye peas, banana cabbage, red beans. Yes, things we can grow here are imported by the big food importers! No wonder the agricultural sector is withering away.

This is a country where nearly all consumer goods are imported and some of the biggest importers are one per centers, so goodbye to Tide, Crest, Febreze, Harpic, Energizer, Sqezy, Tuffy and Hefty garbage bags, Three Plumes matches. They are all imported or manufactured by ANSA MCAL and there are thousands of other products that fall within this category. 

Are the one percent only in non-unionised enterprises? Are union members to withhold their labour as part of the boycott strategy? Isn't it setting up further division within the working class between unionised and non-unionised workers, many of whom already view the trade union movement as sectarian and not concerned with the wider working class, but only with their members?

Anyway, a certain labour leader has to be careful his BMW does not start to give trouble and has to be repaired or parts procured, while making sure he suppresses his love for burgers from Burger King lest he be deemed a hypocrite.

One does not make such calls in a trifling manner. To do so and then have it fail will further alienate an embattled working class and lead to further despair. Maybe, that is the true objective!