T&T unions vow general strike

(Trinidad Express) Trade unionists yesterday laid down eight demands to the Government, as they committed to protest action over the next two months and a promise to shut down the country.

Over a dozen trade unions signed the Labour Day accord yesterday, which included a call for the Government to remove the five per cent wage increase being offered to workers and to also settle wage negotiations with teachers.

Speaking yesterday at Charlie King Junction, Fyzabad, during Labour Day celebrations, president-general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget itemised the demands to the People’s Partnership.

These included the immediate removal of the interministerial committee, placing labour legislation high on its legislative agenda, dealing with constitutional reform, commencing the process for the development of a land use and agricultural policy, reinstating all workers who have been displaced through no fault of their own and reviewing the national youth policy.

Roget reviewed the Government’s performance over the last year, raising points outlined in the People’s Partnership’s manifesto.

“If we had in place the right to recall, many MPs (Members of Parliament) would have been recalled and already sent packing,” Roget said.

He outlined the unions’ commitment to launch a campaign to change “this outdated system of governance” and promised days of protest.

The first will be a “massive demonstration” outside Prime Minster Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s office on July 7.

Roget said workplace meetings will continue, leading to workplace shutdowns in the last week in July and a series of protest demonstrations beginning at the end of August.

These actions will culminate in a general strike on a date to be announced.

“The general strike will come like a thief in the night. It could be one day or it could be many days,” Roget said.

Roget and members from the National Union of Government and Federated Workers (NUGFW), Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA),  Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), Banking, Insurance and General Workers’ Union (BIGWU),  Amalgamated Workers’ Union,  Medical Professionals Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MPATT), Estate Police Association, Steel Workers’ Union, Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN), Postal Workers’ Union, Contracts and General Workers’ Union and Government Industrial and General Workers’ Union all signed the accord while the crowd sang, “We shall not be moved” and “Solidarity forever”.

Labour’s eight demands: 1. Government immediately remove the five per cent wage cap. 2. Immediate removal of the interministerial committee. 3. Government immediately place labour legislation high on its legislative agenda. 4. Immediately implement process for constitutional reform. 5. Government immediately implement labour market survey in the TTUTA negotiation. 6. Government immediately commence process for the development of a land use and agricultural policy. 7. Reinstate all workers who have been displaced though no fault of their own. 8. Restructure and the review of the national youth policy.

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