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posted 24 Oct 2013, 15:23 by Gerry Kangalee


by Cecil Paul

The workers of this country and the public in general need to know that the sixty-eight workers dismissed by letter dated October 21, 2013 by State Owned Trinidad and Tobago National Petroleum Marketing Company limited are long service workers with as much as thirty - seven years service with some nearing retirement, having just a few years of service left. 
The industrial relations “crime” these workers allegedly committed was refusing to train contract workers and managers which would have endangered their jobs and protesting against unsafe and unhealthy conditions at an obsolete and technologically outdated Lube Oil Plant; a plant that the company was forced to operate for just a part of the day because of the derelict conditions. 

These harsh and oppressive mass dismissals by NP’s Board of Directors, who it is said got their directions from the political directorate, can only be described as Political Wickedness in High Places. 
I personally know the majority of these workers, having been their colleague for many years. Many of them commenced their careers and working life at NP. They have performed at various levels of the company’s operations and are skilled and experienced workers. They are very loyal to NP. I have also been their union representative for many years and their manager for some ten years after returning to NP from secondment to the OWTU. 
These political hatchet people, state sector parasites and party prostitutes sitting on the Board have no moral authority or industrial relations justification to end the careers of these sixty-eight veteran NP workers who built NP to what it is today. 
Even if the workers were wrong (AND THEY WERE NOT) in terms of industrial relations principles, there is no justification for the Board of NP under orders from the corrupted politicians to instruct, yes, instruct, the managers to dismiss these workers. I am positive that the managers at NP did not recommend the harsh and oppressive treatment meted out to these workers. 
What we have seen from this Government is an attitude of hostility towards workers and their unions despite the presence of several former trade unionists in their ranks. In fact the union leaders of the NP and TCL workers (remember them?) were instrumental in forming the unholy Peoples Partnership and one still holds a high position in this anti-worker government while some have been forced to leave. 

First they unleashed a Wage Suppression policy on workers, corrupted some of the leaders to sell out and also dismissed dozens of cement workers. Additionally, they have engaged in an orgy of continuous corruption, victimization of the poor and the powerless and gross behaviour unbecoming of leaders. 

The Cement and NP workers have been the victims of mass dismissals since the PP Government come to power. In the case of Cement workers they were dismissed about a year ago. The NP workers have been suspended for two months and then dismissed. 
The PP Minister of Labour was a former leader of the union representing these workers for many years and enjoyed the best of salary, perks, high pensions and free housing before and after from the dues paid by these workers. He rode the backs of the workers into political office with additional high salaries and perks. 
Is his history with the workers not enough to justify an intervention in the cause of industrial relations justice? Some workers have said that they begged their former PG to come to their assistance without any success. What a Shame! Why the silence from the other trade unionists in the Government? 
Like the workers of Trinidad Cement Ltd., NP workers will be at the mercy of time and Industrial Court hearings which could take years to determine. Meanwhile their lives and that of their families will be seriously affected and will no doubt change for the worse. 
These two sets of mass dismissals should serve as a lesson to the labour movement that we must broaden our membership to bolster our strength and influence in the society as our members who we serve are being brutalised by an elitist system and a wicked political party some trade unions helped to spawn. 
Workers need to be more active in their unions and not let corrupted leaders do harm to your economic life. Take Warning! Labour is under renewed attack from this government. 
We need to Fight Back and Win to regain respect from the ruling elites. For those who again wish to ride the backs of the workers into political office, take heed, for with mass dismissals, privatization and all the other anti-worker measures being implemented, there may not be many workers’ backs left to ride if we continue to be marginalized by those who control the political and economic resources of our country. 

Cecil Paul
October 24, 2013.