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posted 13 Jun 2012, 10:06 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 13 Jun 2012, 10:49 ]
national Workers Union's Cecil Paul at the TCL strike campAlthough the strike at Trinidad Cement Ltd. (TCL) has ended after three gruelling months, the management of the company has intensified its vicious attacks on the workers, members of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU).
The workers returned to work in conjunction with the law and the Order of the Industrial Court.
During the strike, the company evicted the credit union from its compound, even though the credit union had been on site for over fifty years.
The company unilaterally and illegally shut down the union branch office on the compound and dumped the union‘s documents in a container.

Sources within TCL told this website that the company has a list of forty two names, including most of the branch officials and the militant activists who led the strike.

The employer class in T&T has clearly taken a decision to launch a sustained and deadly assault on the workers of this country. Like capitalists throughout the world they are seeking to shift income from the workers’ pockets into their coffers in their effort to force working people to bear the brunt of the economic crisis that they created and want us to pay for.

For this assault to succeed they have to dismantle the power of the trade union movement and beat it into submission. The employers carefully chose TCL as the battleground where they would launch their assault, knowing they could continue to service the market with imports from their operations in Jamaica and Barbados and even from their largest shareholder Cemex.

The employers also decided that they had to go toe to toe with the powerful OWTU if they had to have any chance of ensuring that the class struggle, which is raging on the industrial relations front, shifts the balance of power more decisively in their favour.

While there are high points in the class struggle, like during periods of strike action, the class struggle is a constant. The employers do not relax but constantly conceive and implement measures which whittle away at the potential power of the working class.

The employers encourage and revel in the tactic of divide and rule. They hate and fear unity and collective action among workers. They will try to seduce, bribe and put trade union leaders and local union reps in grip.

If this does not work they launch wholesale, sustained vicious attacks against trade unions in an effort to ensure that workers end up defenceless in a situation of stepped-up assaults against our rights, entitlements and hard-won benefits.

There is an ongoing day to day class struggle between the exploited and the exploiters which ever so often bursts out into dramatic conflicts. Warren Buffet, the US billionaire and the world’s second richest man was very clear when he said: “If class warfare is being waged in America, my class is clearly winning.”

The employers and their enforcers in the government have no doubt workers are to be kept in their place so that our labour, the source of all wealth, can be exploited without too much hassle.

It is we, the working people, who time after time put our faith and confidence in the very bosses who exploit our labour by believing their lies and deceptions; by voting for the hustlers and con artists they finance during elections and by hoping that they will have a change of heart and behave in a civilised and humane manner.

That is not going to happen. We must not drop our guard in this class struggle, which is a struggle for the survival of ourselves and our families.
The workers on this list are slated for disciplinary action including dismissal for alleged disciplinary infractions that occurred on the picket line.
The intention is to decimate the ranks of militant activists and union reps.

In violation of the Industrial Court Order, management attempted to prevent particular workers from entering the gates under the guise of having an orderly “phasing in” and an “orientation” by batches of thirty.
When this didn’t work they turned the so-called orientation sessions into intimidation sessions where they browbeat and attempted to terrorise workers.

Management has increased surveillance equipment in the workplace to mako workers more efficiently. They have also unilaterally introduced biometric identification mechanisms without first seeking the union’s agreement for these changes in working conditions.

Satnarine Bachew, TCL’s limelight-seeking machine gun mouth General Manager, who has been acting as mouthpiece for group CEO Rollin “Dr. Stone” Bertrand, has taken a delight in informing the country that TCL is in restructuring mode and has, gleefully, hinted that there are going to be savage job cuts.

The employers understand what they have to do to serve their class interests. We better get with the programme and do what we have to do, as working people, to serve our interests.

We have to stay as united as possible on the workplace. We have to be prepared to engage in collective action in solidarity with workers everywhere, whether unionised or not. We must understand that whatever they to do to the least of our brethren and sisterin, they do to us.

We have to strengthen our defence organisations and particularly our unions into impregnable fortresses. We must ensure that the leadership of the trade union movement is capable of leading us into battle.

We must ensure that the union members are fully informed of circumstances surrounding decisions to be made and that they participate fully in discussions and have the final say in deciding matters affecting their quality of life and that of their families.

We must ensure that the leadership and the rank and file are of one mind as to strategy, tactics and the objectives of the battles we choose to engage in or that are thrust upon us.

We have to ensure we protect and defend our local branch reps; that they are up to the task, act with courage and on the basis of principle, and are not intimidated by management or vulnerable to management seduction.

We must know inside out all the circumstances affecting the employers with whom we engage in battle: what are their strengths, their weaknesses, their capabilities, the resources they have available etc.

Let the ongoing battle at TCL strengthen our resolve not only to come to the aid of the TCL workers, as the battlefield shifts, but to learn the serious lessons that their struggle has taught us and to prepare ourselves to shift the class struggle in our favour every opportunity we get.