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SOMETHING RESEMBLING A TRADE UNIONIST By Tony Bedassie

posted 15 Jul 2017, 04:16 by Gerry Kangalee
The Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), led by OWTU president general Ancel Roget, is calling on all its members to come out on August 4th to attend a march in Port of Spain. It is not surprising that after nearly two years in government the honeymoon seems to be over. Or is it?

The labour movement has thus far been quiet. With one former trade union president as Labour Minister, maybe they thought that things would be different. The previous administration also had a former unionist as its Labour Minister but to what benefit?

One wonders what they plan to announce at this rally. For long I have held the view that labour and government have differing objectives. That their courses will never put them at the same point, the same finish line. One must question though if that statement holds true for this bunch. Trade unionism is supposed to be seeking betterment for the working class. Has that been the reality of late?

Time after time we have seen the eventual outcomes of some of the most vociferous leaders of this movement ending up as government ministers, senators and so on. Yet never have we seen any improvement in the lives of the working class or with respect to the laws governing trade unions and their operations.

The recognition and certification board still takes years to deal with applications. The Industrial Relations Act of 1972 continues to be like an albatross around the necks of workers. Yet they continue in their mantra of "When those who labour hold the reins of power."

Has trade unionism lost its direction? Have the efforts of the pioneers of the movement, men like Cipriani, Butler, Rienzi and others come to nought? The agitations of post independence leaders within civil society, men such as Nunez and Daaga, who led the black power movement of the seventies is a far cry from what we are seeing today. Their intention of fostering unity and brotherhood was quickly shot down through the intervention of the Williams led government.

We were and still remain a young nation. The only difference is that now our so called trade union leaders, or at least most of them, can no longer be defined as revolutionary, as grass roots. They have joined the employer class in being chauffeur driven in executive rides and so on; retiring with healthy packages given to them by executives, only now those executives are of their own choosing; of their own anointing, handpicked so as to have some form of continuity, some form of legacy which will guarantee that when the succession of leadership takes place, they can expect to be handsomely rewarded also.

Comparing the early days of the 1930's and 70's to now, we do see some similarities. The dress code of west coat and red hat might be the same; however what the clothing contains within is as different as chalk and cheese. We have devolved from revolutionaries to SOMETHING RESEMBLING A TRADE UNIONIST.
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