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THREE VIEWS OF THE CANDLE LIGHT VIGIL

posted 6 Dec 2017, 02:18 by Gerry Kangalee
TIME FOR LABOUR LEADERS TO REFLECT
By Tony Bedassie

Image result for jtum candle light vigilThe JTUM and its leader held a candle light vigil in POS last Friday with "Scores" in attendance. This is the same leader and the same group who lobbied for the present government at the last elections.

At that time, before that time and even now, I have ever maintained that Labour has no place getting involved in local politics. In 2010 the Fyzabad Accord was struck between this element of the Trade Union movement and the People’s Partnership. This saw their former leader ascend to the seat of power, becoming Minister of Labour; yet five years later workers were no better off for it. The Recognition and Certification Board continues to drag its feet, The Industrial Relations Act has not been amended to give workers more rights.

In 2015, with the help of this same bunch, another of their former leaders ascended to the seat of power under this government. How have workers benefited from either of these two occurrences?

Prior to Independence, real Trade Unionists like Butler (RIP) joined the fight for governance and home rule, agitating and struggling. Their hard work paid off, we got home rule.

Nowadays it seems that this current bunch sees the movement as a tool to be used for their personal betterment rather than a method to better the working conditions of the working class. No wonder "scores" turned out to the candle light vigil. In this day of information technology, workers are more aware of what's happening and won't be fooled by the rhetoric being spewed by their so called leaders.

The worst part of this entire scenario is that workers continue to feel the pinch. Arcelor Mittal, TCL etc are recent and prime examples.

Now this same bunch, having celebrated the agreement between themselves and government, that "No job cuts should happen until after Christmas", citing it as a victory, should take some time to reflect upon their past history. With Petrotrin earmarked for restructuring one wonders what type of resistance this movement can lead come 2018. We have already seen that another leader has contracts at the Port. What does that say? Conflict of interest?

The New Year will bring with it serious challenges for us as workers in this country, the question is, what will we celebrate then? Maybe we can get the government to hold off until after carnival so that we can jump up and wine as we celebrate that victory.

WILL IT BE DIFFERENT THIS TIME?
by Peter Garvey

On Saturday 2nd December 2017, I had an unsettling dose of political deja vu. Upon scrolling through Facebook that morning I saw a
Image result for jtum mannequin video which was an excerpt from the candlelight vigil that was held at Nelson Mandela Park the night before.

I stopped watching the video when the President of the CWU raised what seemed to be a black plastic bag off of a sickly, pale looking mannequin. Urged on by the President of the JTUM, Ancel Roget, Comrade Elder (under faux suspense) revealed what was supposed to be a representation of our Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

I did not continue to watch the unveiling of the other dummy because I was having a flashback of other dummies unveiling a dummy, but I suppose that the other dummy represented the Prime Minister.

The first time and this time I think that the JTUM is being silly; but this time it's worse. Why? The JTUM re-formed to break a 5% salary cap imposed by a Prime Minister that most of the important leaders of the group endorsed. Now comes the deja vù! The JTUM under the leadership of Ancel Roget unveiled a mannequin of then PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Now, again, Ancel Roget has done the same to a different PM from a different party; a party that he endorsed.

After the PP won in 2010 the "Trade Union Movement" cried foul over the non-implementation of the "Workers Agenda". After the PNM won in 2015 the same "Movement" bawled because the MOU between the PNM and the JTUM took a backseat to everything PNM. Both documents were used as a basis for the revelation of mannequins. We all know what happened to workers the last time. Do you think that it will be different this time? Hmm?


MORE HORN THAN SANTA'S REINDEER
by Rae Samuel

Just over a week after the residents of the Beetham took to the streets, the sewer overflow from the judiciary could overwhelm all the City corporation's sanitation trucks in one night, Vicki walks out of the Women's Prison in Arouca, the Cabinet decides to buy a replacement ferry rather than leave it to the Port Authority and a female executive is summarily dismissed for defending her personal integrity, the JTUM comes up with a heroic response in the face of a cascading social collapse. Yes folks. Here’s to a militant candle light vigil. Flic your Bics, comrades.

A candle light vigil serves to highlight a matter, an issue, and coalesce support for an action or a campaign..To imagine that consciousness needs to be further heightened at this point is to suggest that people's everyday lives from Beetham to La Brea are teaching them nothing; that they do not have eyes to see, ears to hear and minds and intellect to reason. Unless of course the JTUM is there to tell them. 

Even so, the day chosen, the time and the venue reflect the absolute lack of thought given to the protest. One ad said 4 p.m while another major member of the JTUM claimed that they would be there at 6p.m. So at 5.30 p.m I saw a handful of blue shirts. The Guardian later reported that 'scores' turned out. What kind of turn out can be expected on a Friday evening, at a venue difficult to reach, on a month end? One can pull that off with weeks of mobilisation on the ground i.e. in work places and in communities, not by social media ads and press releases. 

Which begs the question. Do all the units of the various federations, NATUC/FITUN into JTUM go along with these proposals? Indeed what level of consultation does take place around the table? Let us remember that prior to the August 4th demonstration the various arms and different leaders re-affirmed their brotherhood from Scarborough to Palo Seco. Yet one leader is attacking another publicly over a trade union dispute. Do they not meet around the table? 

Four months after the “massive demonstration” of August 4th, just a month after yet another COSSABO, months after fruitless efforts to raise the dead i.e. the Tripartite process, after the "boycott" against the 1%, the year ends with pronouncements about being fed up with the PNM. Let us not forget that this same leader/leadership has been embracing traditional political parties from the Fyzabad
a
ccord through to the Hyatt concordats/undertakings. These labour leaders now 'get more horn'' than all of Santa's reindeer from the political Parties since 2010. 

So having been shafted by one and suckered by the other, in spite of the evidence of history and scars of painful, direct experience, is it being said that our best response in this enveloping crisis is to "Put a candle in the window?" or to walk around with another effigy and risk being called a 'drama queen?' And when this effigy thing fails, as it did with the former Prime Minister, what is next? Dolls with pins sticking out? Carnival in December? Mas man Brian McFarlane joining the JTUM? 

Some may construe this as an attack leadership. Far from it. It is stating a reality based on empirical evidence. To not criticise openly is to accept quietly. One dares to suggest that within the week, the problems in health, education, the judiciary, in sport, in the prisons will continue to worsen. Maybe a Cabinet re-shuffle here, another commission of enquiry there, an address to the nation elsewhere. Or someone will hand in another report on how to choose a public official, while the President of a $100m 'free-oil'' State enterprise will resign without reason or explanation. 

Disaffected, disenfranchised, marginalised people in Trinidad and Tobago are entering history once again, not as objects but as subjects; that they have not articulated it for the benefit of the intellectuals, the writers of Party manifestos, talk show hosts and liberal upper class columnists is of little concern. To paraphrase C.L.R. James they are at present making the future. And it is not in the image and likeness of what presently exists 

Fanon says in ''Wretched of the Earth'' they are simply discussing how to deal with those whom they realise have placed and would have them stay, in a wretched condition.
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