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posted 22 Sept 2012, 20:41 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 23 Sept 2012, 07:22 by Dave Smith ]


 PTSC workers discuss strategy in March 2012
Close to two o'clock in the morning of Saturday September 22nd 2012, a long, torturous and often bitter negotiation between the workers of the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) represented by the Transport and Industrial Workers Union (TIWU) and their employer was finally concluded. It resulted in a resounding victory for the workers although it was settled one year after the contract period expired.

The conclusion of the negotiation came against the backdrop of heightened intervention by the PTSC workers who engaged in positive action to advance their cause, particularly over the last few days before the settlement, although during the ridiculously long period over which the negotiations were conducted there were many instances of positive action taken by the workers at critical periods during the talks.

The President of the union, Comrade Roland Sutherland, argued forcefully and persuasively
Comrade Roland Sutherland, President of TIWU
that PTSC drivers who had greater responsibility carrying live cargo than their driver colleagues at TSTT, T&TEC and WASA were in receipt of lower wages that in the other statutory authorities.

The union set itself the objective of increasing the wage levels to that of WASA drivers (the lowest paid of the above-named statutory authority drivers). The idea was that in subsequent negotiations they would strive for equity with the others.

With this objective in mind, the Union poured scorn on the Corporation’s attempt to stick them with government’s shameful 5% wage cap and stood firm in the face of management’s intransigence and the flagrant and illegal interference in the negotiations by the Chief Personnel Officer.

Through painstaking and thorough negotiation, constant consultation and intervention from the rank and file and the leadership’s refusal to compromise its position the battle became one of attrition. Who would blink first, the union or the government, was the million dollar question. In March, the workers launched a seies of direct actions and the union's headquarters was broken into and vandalised by the the police during the pre-foreday morning hours.

With the political pressure building, the government blinked in the face of the intensified actions of the workers who had clearly had enough. In the finest tradition of TIWU, a tradition established by its founder Joe Young, the workers showed the country that if the state could not be persuaded by the immense strength of the workers’ argument they would have to be persuaded by the argument of the workers’ immense strength.

In the face of militancy and direct action of the workers, the position of the government crumbled to dust.

The workers are to have their COLA consolidated; an upgrade of $5.50 per hour is to be applied across the board and then a 9% wage increase is to be applied (7%-1%-1%). This is certainly a long way from the despised 5% wage cap.

The Transport and Industrial Workers Union, its leadership and its militant rank and file certainly deserve congratulations from all workers in the country and especially from the organised labour movement for holding the line through thick and thin; for upholding the great tradition of militant, class conscious trade unionism and for keeping the path cleared as their fellow unions attempt to secure decent wages in a time of brutal assault on workers’ rights, benefits and entitlements by the employers and the state. LONG LIVE TIWU!