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PRESSURE HARDENS THE DIAMOND By Ken Howell

posted 10 Dec 2018, 08:04 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 10 Dec 2018, 08:07 ]
Image result for pressure hardens diamondsThe Sunday Guardian of 11th November 2018 published an article under the title: CONSULTATION NEEDS SUBSTANCE. Well, the word consultation, according to the Oxford English Dictionary is a noun. That is how you would describe a situation where parties meet to ask for advice or information. In other words we consult.

The writer appears to be saying that what the management of Petrotrin, led by Mr Wilfred Espinet, understood was that the union was seeking advice when the union presented proposals and the parties signed an agreement to meet to have further discussions in April.

The truth is that the parties were not in a consulting mode. It was plain and simple negotiations which resulted in the parties reaching an agreement, which they signed as is usually the case.

The real issue in the industrial relations offence is whether there is a signed agreement that the parties agreed to without duress and whether that agreement is enforceable. The substance of the agreement is contained in the documents filed in the Industrial Court in support of the Industrial Relations Offence (IRO).

Disparaging remarks about the apparent limited intellectual capacity of the current crop of trade union leaders does not diminish the reality; that it is precisely that quality of leadership, which infuriated the scribes in the pay of the PNM and Petrotrin to spread lies about the salaries of employees of the company.

You see the strength of the leadership really lies in the unity, confidence and strength of the workers and is it that unity and strength that is usually employed by the workers and their union, to win struggles. Never believe that it is in the strength of the leadership. While it is desirable for the person or persons who are in leadership of any union to acquire sufficient knowledge about the workings of the economy and business, we must never forget that all the knowledge that is necessary to know about any industry, is available at the point of production. Therein lies the strength of the workers.

The reason why employers focus their attention on the leaders is because they believe the authority in the union flows from the top down. And if you can turn the leaders to their way of thinking, they can succeed in weakening the strength of the workers and their union. They have been led to believe that because pro-business opportunistic trade union leaders, in our jurisdiction and in the centres of capitalism, have been working diligently to create pro-capitalist unions.

The fact of the matter is that most, if not all, of the large unions in this country are affiliated to an international federation of trade unions, which is the umbrella body of workers in the industry or discipline in which the workers they represent are employed. Membership in these federations provides these unions with the necessary information about what is the current situation in their particular field of interest.

So while Ancel Roget’s stumbling under cross examination gave cause for celebration by employers that they might have succeeded in wounding the pride of the most powerful union in the country; they must remember that a wounded animal is a dangerous animal!

It is not just the OWTU and its members, who have been wounded - it is the trade union movement. It is the unionised and non-unionised workers against whom Mr Reginald Armour has delivered that blow. But this does not mean that they have won the war. This is just one of the many skirmishes in the battle, because we are heading for a war which is about defending the little gains which we made as a result of the revolt of 1970. That is what the attack on the OWTU means.

After Petrotrin closes down, the real war will begin. And this war will have nothing to do with the intellectual capacity of the leaders of the respective unions. By that time the initiative to lead would be out of the hands of the current leaders. So by belittling Roget and the current crop of leaders, the spokespersons of the business elite are helping to replace the current bunch with young bright, militant, progressive leaders. Throughout the capitalist world, this is already happening. Leaders are emerging in the movement who are anti-capitalist, IT and AI savvy and are already making an impact on the movement.

So while it would appear that some of the current crop of leaders needs to upgrade their skills, the fact of the matter is that they are on their way out. While the employers may be of the view that this offensive against the movement will effect the total annihilation of the trade union movement, they will soon learn that “pressure hardens the diamond.”

Those were the words of Prime Minister Rowley when he delivered an address on the occasion of Divali at the Nagar. So that if you want the workers and their leaders to stop the noise, negotiations must be infused with good faith and full disclosure, not with trickery, the techniques of the conman, which is bait and switch and when these tactics are exposed, you want to shout about too much noise? Listen and listen well. This just a skirmish, the war is yet to come!
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