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GOING THE EXTRA MILE by Rae Samuel

posted 19 Mar 2018, 20:32 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 20 Mar 2018, 12:44 ]
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 belief 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!
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