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PRIVATISATION AND UNION BUSTING By Ken Howell

posted 20 Jan 2019, 11:13 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 20 Jan 2019, 11:19 ]
It would appear that everyone knew that the strength of the trade unions existed in the public/state sector, except the leaders of the movement. If that is not so, then what could explain the complacency which characterised the behaviour of the leaders, from 2006 – 2017.

There is a need for the leaders to pay greater attention to the task of improving the quality of representation at the sections and branch levels of the unions through an aggressive education programme in order to improve the skills and ability of the officers to represent their members.

The ball was dropped by the leaders, when they chose instead to focus on different ways and means by which to ingratiate themselves firstly, with the UNC/Peoples Partnership Party and then with the Peoples National Movement.

In the pursuit of these failed objectives, they expended physical and financial resources which would have benefitted their respective unions had those resources been spent on improvements in the ability of their respective union to serve their members as they are expected to do.

Instead, as a result of their negligence, the weakness of the movement was exposed, and the enemy was provided with the opportunity to deliver a mortal blow. As a result, an” Uncle Tom” who has entered the field of industrial relations and almost all Omes, Helens and Harilals are currently taking aim at the movement in the media. And since they recognised that connections exist between the trade unions and the public/state sector, they know that by disbanding the public/state enterprise sector, the destruction of the trade union movement would be achieved.

As a result, two individuals who are definitely anti- trade unionism and pro-free enterprise (whatever that means) penned two articles in the Newsday Newspaper. The first entitled: STATE ENTERPRISE OR FREE MARKET appeared on Wednesday 12th December 2018, and was written by Edmund Narine and the second appeared on Friday 14th December 2018 and was entitled: UNIONS DO NOT HELP A COUNTRY’S PROSPERITY and was written by Elton Singh.

In his article, Mr. Narine, was responding to an article written by Mr Reginald Dumas, which appeared in the Newsday on November 26
USA Ambassador Joseph Mondello
entitled AN UNENTERPRISING STATE in which it would appear that Mr Dumas was responding to critical statements made by the new US Ambassador Joseph Mondello, who was of the view, that the state of Trinidad and Tobago must get out of economic activity and leave that up to the private sector.

He felt that there was no analysis presented by Mr Dumas in support of the points he made in his response to the US ambassador. I did not see or read the article which Mr Dumas wrote, but I can recall, that the main contention of Mr Mondello was that state enterprises are prone to corruption: as if that is not the case with private sector companies.

Where state sector companies co-exist in an environment where private sector culture and business practices are dominant, it is very difficult for state enterprises to cultivate a culture which is free of contamination from the private sector, especially in a small country such as ours. Such enterprises can only succeed, if and when the government in office is led by personnel who are schooled and are committed to a world outlook which has at its foundation, progressive ideas strongly leaning towards revolutionary democracy.

But Mr Narine also failed to present any analysis for his support of the free enterprise system, except to peddle the propaganda/fake news about the salaries which it was alleged that some employees of Petrotrin were receiving. In addition, he questioned whether the Rowley administration has the testicular fortitude to disband the state sector which he alleged Dr. Eric Williams created to ensure that the PNM continued to have the support of the Afro-Trinbagonian base.

He also mentioned the buy local campaign which Dr. Eric Williams promoted, implying that the call to buy local was as a result of the

The late President general of the OWTU, George Weekes, led the fight for nationalisation
lack of interest, which was demonstrated by both local and foreign private sector companies, to invest in the economy of this country. He ignored the fact that there was an uprising in 1970 which led to the decision of the PNM government led by Dr. Eric Williams to nationalise some private sector companies. And it was Prime Minister George Chambers who nationalised the oil companies in response to the campaign, which the then President General of the OWTU, Comrade George Weekes, mounted demanding that the government nationalise Texaco.

Instead, he argued that it all had to do with ethnicity. He also ignored the fact that both Indo-Trinidadians and Afro-Trinidadians had joined together in 1970; demanding that we want to own our country. In fact the attempted Coup in 1990 occurred as a result of the deliberate subversion, of the mass movement of the people which was led by the Summit of Peoples Organisation (SOPO).

SOPO came into prominence following on the heels of the successful national strike in March 1989 (The day of resistance). Mr. Narine who chose to champion the cause of the free enterprise system also failed to provide any analysis in support of why he believes that the state should not intervene in the economy.

Then there was Mr. Elton Singh who had problems with an opinion poll which Market Facts and Opinion did, in which the majority, 57 percent of the respondents, thought that unions are necessary and 53 percent were of the view that there was a need for the Industrial Court. In support of his view that Unions do not help a country’s prosperity, he went on to refer to a 2010 World Values Survey, in which he alleged that it was found that 65 per cent of populations had little or no confidence in unions.

He omitted to say which population was surveyed and what kinds of questions the survey chose to ask; also how was the sample survey designed and how it was segmented and so on. Clearly, therefore, the intention of both writers was to campaign in support of privatisation and union busting which appears to be the favourite pastime of elements who are the disciples of neo-liberalism.

In Trinidad and Tobago these days, elements from both the middle and upper class, are singing the praises of neo-liberalism, because it is their belief that it is possible to kill two birds with one stone. You see by getting rid of certain state enterprises you would also get rid of some trade unions. The leaders of the movement never saw that one coming. How could they when their heads were always in the rear of the leaders of the PNM and the UNC.
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