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posted 14 Mar 2019, 09:18 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 14 Mar 2019, 10:18 ]

I am now convinced that the closure of Petrotrin was a calculated attack not only on the OWTU, but on the rest of the trade union movement and the country as a whole.

I say this because there is a definite connection between the secret meeting of the Chambers and the execution of that plan. The plot becomes even clearer when you factor in the series of articles attacking the trade union movement which appeared in the Sunday Guardian Newspaper.

What is even clearer is that what the employers are seeking to achieve is the scrapping of labour laws which impact upon the relations between the trade unions and employers in the labour market. This was revealed in an article in the Sunday Guardian Newspaper on March 10th 2019 entitled: Of undertakers and midwives.

The article set out to make a case for the government and the trade union movement to recognise that with the introduction of new technology into the production process times have changed and, as a result, certain jobs and job descriptions will change.

Of course in order to make that point it set out to paint a picture of the state of the economy by pointing to the oil crisis and the current fluctuation in the price; the decline in oil revenues; the precarious situation with respect to the National Insurance Pension Scheme as it relates to the shrinking labour force and the fact that people are living longer.

It also pointed to similar situations which Japan and some other countries face. All of this was done in order to justify their demand for change. I must admit that the article was well written by someone who seems to be one of the masterminds behind the assault on the trade union movement. I say this because it would appear that following the psychological assault on the minds of the working class of this country an assessment of the impact was made.

Notwithstanding the intrusion of the Venezuelan crisis into the daily conversation of the population, it would appear that it was decided that sufficient work was done and it was now time to demand change. However, if you should take a look back into the history of the several efforts made by several committees and the many proposals and recommendations for amendments to be made to certain clauses of the IRA and other labour legislations, you would recognise that the employers were never in agreement with the recommendations which were largely those made by the trade union movement.

But now they are calling for amendments to labour laws because they have engineered an environment in which, they believe, they can now achieve the demise of the trade union movement. What they want is the freedom to manipulate the labour force as they see fit. They would like to have the freedom to make maximum use of multiskilling and to be able to write job descriptions that are open to manipulation as and when it becomes necessary to do so.

However, in order to achieve that objective, the organised arm of the labour force must be dismantled, despite the fact that the leaders of that faction of the labour force could not care less about the future of organised labour.

But the Chamber of Commerce is not only training its guns on organised labour. It also has the Judges of the Industrial Court and the Court itself in its gun sight. As a consequence, it has called in some favours from the office of the Attorney General. This fact came to light in an article which appeared in the Sunday Express Newspaper on 10th March 2019 entitled: Al-Rawi: No crisis at Industrial Court.

Attorney General Al Rawi
The Attorney General was responding to questions in an interview with that Newspaper concerning a statement which Mr Devant Maharaj made concerning the shortage of Judges, which resulted from the expiration of their respective contracts of employment. In his response to the concerns raised, he was a bit economical with the truth.

My understanding is that when contracts are due to expire, the President of the Court usually informs the
President of the Industrial Court, Deborah Thomas-Felix
Office of the Attorney General. Such notification is also accompanied by an appraisal of the performance of each of the Judges and a recommendation from the President as it pertains to each of the Judges.

The Attorney General, as is usually the case, will take the recommendations along with the supporting documents to the Cabinet. Following the deliberations at that level and the Cabinet’s approval, the contracts of those judges are renewed or otherwise. At no time in the past was the involvement of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission required or was found to be necessary. This development must be explained by the AG.

In addition, the fact that the views of the Chamber of Commerce and the Energy Chamber were sought, speaks to an unacceptable intrusion into the decision making process as it relates to the appointment of judges on contract in the Industrial Court. This unacceptable development exposed the conspiracy which is being orchestrated against the trade union movement in order to ensure the control of the labour market by the employer class.

What this means, is that the State is currently being swayed by the shift in the balance of forces between the contending classes. This is evident by the fact that more than 80% of the labour force is not unionised and the percentage that is unionised is led by elements
Defenders of the working class or gatekeepers for the employers?
that are under the influence of the capitalist ideology. Because of this, they never saw the need to collectively embark on a recruitment campaign in order to ensure that the balance of class forces in the labour market was always tilted in the direction of organised labour.

They always saw their role as one in which they are the gate keepers of the capitalist class. That is to say, they genuinely believe that the capitalist system will reward them for their loyalty as long as they see their role as one in which they assist in managing the recurrent labour costs which employers must meet from time to time.

So that while the current bunch of trade union leaders still live in never-never land, nurtured by years of indoctrination by the American Institute for Free Labour Development (AFLD), the effects of such a conditioning system have rendered them unsuitable for leadership in the current hostile industrial relations climate.

As a consequence, the members of the trade union movement must act now to salvage what is left of the dignity of the movement. It is time we begin to distinguish the reality, in spite of the smoke and mirrors which the government and the Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated organisations have been emitting in order to mask the attack on the working class.

This latest attack involved the closure of Petrotrin, the emasculation of the CWU, the many retrenchments that are ongoing and those which will happen at WASA, T&TEC, the Regional Corporations and the Public Service. What will trigger these events? Well we know now about cyber attacks on the grids of the electricity company of Venezuela. Could this happen here? Think about it!