Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎


posted 26 Mar 2018, 15:19 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 26 Mar 2018, 15:22 ]
Image result for capitalist dogs howlWhat is being peddled in the public domain, on Facebook, on the print and electronic media, is a relentless attack on the working people; employed in the public and state sector; the private sector and on the trade unions which represent only fifteen percent of the labour force. These elements who parade as the custodians of all the right solutions for the social economic and political problems facing the country are unable to recommend solutions other than those which will lead to the destruction of the lives of workers. They’re always promoting retrenchment as the only solution.

Why can’t we examine the question of government spending in strategic areas of the economy such as, agriculture and culture? How are we to release our creative spirit, if we are not prepared to hear with our eyes and to see with our ears? If we are not prepared to come to the realisation that slavery and indentureship also prepared us with the ability and the social conditioning to convert our neo-colonial structures into economic and political structures that are socialistic in content and form.

What we constantly refuse to accept is that the social and economic structures of colonialism/neo-colonialism which locked us into international trading and financial blocks, as is the case with other former colonies including South Africa, were not designed to serve the interest of the people of the former colonies. Instead, it was designed to hold our human and mineral resources captive so that they can continue to plunder our resources. That is why although we may claim to be independent; we are still unable to plan our future without their interference.

You see, as long as they control the markets, financially and otherwise, they also control us. But choosing the easy way out is not in our best interest. Putting people on the breadline reduces the purchasing power of the economy, takes money away from the working people, cheapens the labour power of a significant percentage of the labour force, reduces the quality of life of persons already living below the poverty line and puts the lie to the government’s campaign to get the population to come on board the healthy life style bandwagon. These are some of the consequences of adopting and implementing the structural adjustment policies of the neo-liberal ideologues.

We only have to look at the current situation of Greece and South Africa. Neo-liberalism did not bring any improvement in the lives of 
Image result for austeritythe majority of South Africans who were being oppressed during the Apartheid era; in fact under the ANC it appeared to have continued while the leaders grew filthy rich through the plunder of the resources of the State. The same is also true in this country.

However, it is in circumstances such as these, that the spin doctors, the agents of neo-liberalism in the media, the agents of distraction posing as messengers of God come out of the wood work like termites to feed on the structure that working people took centuries to build to protect them from the plundering hordes of Capitalism.

The reasons they have been advancing to justify their demands that the solution is retrenchment, is that workers are not producing. The evidence they advance in support of that position is what they claim is the poor attitude to work in the public and state sectors. Another position is that Trinidadian and Tobagonians do not want work; they want money. That last position is one which serves to justify the use of foreign labour, illegal and legal, to undermine the bargaining strength of the workers.

In the face of this attack on the workers, which has been happening for quite some time now, the trade union movement, on which the government was able to use the bait and switch tactic, is yet to give a comprehensive response?

This is the result of the years of promoting division in the ranks of the movement. Because of the absence of a clear and united response from the leaders of the movement, the failures of the structures of management in the private, public and state sectors are not exposed to the scrutiny of the public so that they can be made to account to the public.

All business entities, whether they are public or private, all have organisational structures. These structures define the lines of authority: who is in charge, who will report to whom and most, if not all, have systems through which disciplinary procedures are conducted. These structures are there to ensure that productivity occurs at a level which will ensure that the shareholders of the enterprise realise a profit on their investment.

The intervention of a trade union to protect the interest of the workers does not take away the right of the management to manage their enterprise, in order to ensure a high level of productivity.

Trade unions under attack
Most, if not all, collective agreements include articles which recognise the rights of management to manage and also include clauses which set out a disciplinary procedure to which the parties to the agreement must adhere. So the claim that workers are not productive is not to be seen as one with any substance.

What drives productivity, is demand and supply. The workers of an enterprise have no control over such matters if they are not unionised. The workers have no control over where and in what kind of economic activities the capitalist will invest financial resources. The capitalists by their very nature are carnivorous creatures. When they suck country “A” dry, they move on to country “B” and so on.

The vast majority of the workers of this country, who comprise the labour force, are not unionised. This means that those who are employed, in non-unionised enterprises, are under the control and influence of their employer. How, in these circumstances, one can lay blame at the feet of organised labour for a decline in productivity. What is really behind the attack on workers over the alleged decline in productivity is really that plans are currently being prepared to attack the terms and conditions of unionised and non-unionised workers. In fact this process has already been put into action.

However, because of the perception that the trade unions are divided and weak, it is clear that the pot hounds believe that the time to launch the attack on the workers is now. I suspect that what are being worked out are the legal weapons to be used to contain the anger of the workers when they rise up in defence of their livelihood.

Could it be that the Anti - Gang Bill and the rumour of a plot to disrupt the Carnival were all part of a larger plan to ensure that the power of the workers is permanently weakened; so that they will be at the mercy of the employers when they enter the labour market to sell their labour power? The problem is that it is not as straightforward as it would appear to be, this time around. Constituencies, in which the political interest of the current political party in government lies, are not likely to accept the loss of jobs in URP and CEPEP from which their respective communities are accustom to earn their livelihood. 

In addition, although the leaders of some of the trade unions are perceived to be corrupt, that very fact places them in the position to become targets for the anger of the workers in the event of a full scale attack on the workers. We must remember that 1989 is still fresh in the minds of many members of the labour force. So let the pot hounds bark; let them howl.