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posted 30 Jul 2014, 09:26 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 30 Jul 2014, 09:49 ]

Lois Pollidore, First Vice President, TIWU and Roland "Raggaz" Sutherland, President of TIWU.
In a powerful show of what used to obtain and should be re-introduced in the labour movement, Transport and Industrial Workers Union (TIWU) President Roland Sutherland and members of his executive team led hundreds of National Maintenance, Training and Security (MTS) workers in a powerful demonstration outside the Ministry of Education, St. Clair Avenue, Port of Spain, on Monday July 28th 2014. 

They were protesting plans by the Ministry to cut the staff at schools across the nation and contract out/privatise the functions of maintenance and security that MTS carries out not only in schools but in other government offices and formerly at the stadia. Citing audit after audit and performance assessment surveys done over the years, Comrade Sutherland has always pointed out the viability and sustainability over the years MTS has been functioning.

The workers, overwhelmingly female and many single parents voiced their concern that Education Minister, Tim Gopeesingh plans to throw them on the breadline which would further exacerbate the social trauma besetting the nation. Their math, in the glaring absence of teachers who will be affected by the actions of MTS, was simple and succinct. Mothers' unemployment = can't mind the children = pressure on the family unit = hustling to survive = youth turning to crime = more of the social havoc we are reaping today. The picket signs said it all.

Anyone who has worked in education long enough or are familiar with how schools are run would tell that the MTS workers soon become part of the staff and assist directly and indirectly in managing the school. Several of them stay at schools as long as teachers do. Comrade Sutherland has always maintained that the trust built up between MTS workers and many staff members cannot and should not be sacrificed on the altar of the God of greed.

The two and a half hours in a hot July sun on St. Clair Avenue, a stone's throw away from the
homes of members of the ruling class did not faze the will and determination of the workers who are showing a clearer understanding of what is to be done and how to go about doing it than many established leaders. It is clear that these workers will do all that is necessary to keep their jobs and that when necessary they will 'wheel and come again'

Up until 11 o 'clock, the only other media house apart from NWU that showed up was CNC 3. Nevertheless Tim surely would have heard or been told of the rumbling at his door caused by the mothers and fathers of the working class who will not let him sacrifice their children.

While Tim is trying to route more public funds into the pockets of well-connected hustlers, morally bankrupt and venal private educators openly declare that the ill gotten $34m they got from Tim's government is theirs to keep and they have no intention of returning it. The irony in the whole affair is that Gopeesingh’s ministry owes MTS more than fifty five million dollars.

Notably absent was any official representation from TTUTA. This is unfortunate since the actions of the MTS staff affect the schools. Take heed educators!