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posted 22 Nov 2011, 00:49 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 22 Nov 2011, 00:58 ]
In a flyer (see attachment below) distributed at a joint trade union public meeting at Point Fortin on Saturday 19th November the National Workers Union (NWU) urged trade union leaders to convene an All Union Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch Officers (Cossabo) to deal with the threat of privatisation looming over the movement. The NWU also repeated its call to end the state of emergency.
The National Workers Union (NWU) calls upon the joint trade union leadership to convene a Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch Officers (COSSABO) to deal with government’s policy of privatisation which has already begun to affect the Banking Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) but which will eventually affect all the unions in the public sector.

Privatisation leads to increased foreign control of the economy and results in widespread retrenchment. The PP government is committed to the policy of privatisation of state enterprises. In a speech delivered at the AMCHAM Conference held on Wednesday 10 November 2011 at the Hilton Minister Dookeran said “state enterprises should now be rationalized to allow for equity offerings to the public. That is a policy directive.”

Minister Dookeran has announced government’s intention to privatise TTMF, First Citizens Bank, public utilities, ports, airports, health care provision and, curiously, pensions. PLIPDECO has been specifically named as one for the chopping block and according to Dookeran, a further seven enterprises are to be privatised.

This policy is absurd in light of the widespread fraud and rip off of depositors and subsequently taxpayers’ funds at home and abroad. It makes no economic sense to divest FCB and other financial institutions to the very organisations that have proved themselves interested only in concentration and accumulation of capital to the detriment of social welfare and equity.

In a society divided into haves and have nots, divestment actually weakens what little influence the masses have and strengthens the position of the rich and powerful. Who have more corn does feed more fowl.

The government is following the dictates of the IMF and is actively partnering with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank, to organise the privatisation. The IFC, according to Minister Dookeran, has done assessments on state enterprise rationalisation and is to work out the actual mechanisms for privatisation.

That policy is not derived from the economic realities but is based on an ideological commitment to neo-liberalism which promotes privatisation; downsizing of the public sector in terms of number of workers and supplying public goods and services; wage suppression and de-regulation.

Many people in the know believe that the government will engage in a fire sale of nationally owned assets as a way to finance their budget deficit

There is a widely shared belief that Petrotrin will be spared because of the presence in the PP government of Errol McLeod and David Abdulah. Oil workers should not rely on this mistaken belief to protect their jobs but should maintain vigilance and rely on their collective strength and their glorious tradition of struggle to defend their jobs and the sovereignty of the country.

It should be quite clear that after eighteen months of the PP government, far from being at the centre of development as the PP manifesto promised, workers have been used and abused.

From the minimum wage fiasco to the lack of action on the amendment of labour laws; the wage suppression policy, the privatisation policy and the imposition of the SOE to break the momentum toward the general strike, the message to the working class has been: vote for me, work hard, shut your mouths and sacrifice your jobs and your children’s future, if need be, to ensure that capitalist exploitation survives.

Isn’t it about time that working people put this arrogant capitalist government in its place? After all, we possess the power of collective strength in numbers and more importantly we possess the power over production. We must remove the scales from our eyes and understand that a united working class can never be defeated. Is we time now.
Gerry Kangalee,
22 Nov 2011, 00:50