The warning came from President of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) Ancil Roget, who spoke to reporters on the sidelines of the People’s Democracy rally at Woodford Square in Port-of-Spain. The outspoken trade unionist said the turnout for yesterday’s event was indicative of significant public support for the protest activities spearheaded by the People’s Democracy.

Roget said it was time for government to stop talking and listen to the people.

“After having talked and talked and talked, absolutely to no avail the action planned where people will withdraw their labour is the only option they have. If they are oppressed by what is happening and without any other recourse, when they withdraw their labour it is the only way they can send a strong signal,” he said.

Roget said the People’s Democracy was pleased with the public’s response to their call to wear red last Friday and Saturday and said that visible support was a sign of success.

The planned national shutdown, which is aimed at bringing activities in the country to a complete halt for two days, is the climax of five days of protest activity by the People’s Democracy. Last Friday and Saturday the group asked members of the public to wear red and yesterday’s rally was held on day three of the demonstration.

Roget said the People’s Democracy condemned any plan by employers to block the national shutdown and pointed out that it was the way citizens would send a signal to the Manning Administration that “all is not right”.

“We condemn any employer and the ECA (Employers’ Consultative Association) and the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA), who seek to intimidate workers when they take action tomorrow and sacrifice. That sacrifice is for the benefit of all of Trinidad and Tobago. We condemn that and we are preparing a response.”

Prime Minister Patrick Manning, Udecott Chairman Calder Hart, and the new property tax came in for severe criticism from several speakers at yesterday’s rally.

Roget told the gathering: “Because we are a population that forgets quickly, the politicians are making fools of us. It is time for our Prime Minister to come clean with this country. Mr Calder Hart is the subject of a Commission of Inquiry. I think that Commission of Inquiry should be re-started immediately. There was a poor attempt to shut it down but the truth will come out.”

Stephen Kangal, a member of the Caroni Assembly of Villagers, and the author of a booklet on the property tax, appealed to the public to send “a loud message to the Government, to immediately withdraw this tax”.

“It is callous, insensitive and abominable. If they continue with this idea it will be a fiscal catastrophe, ” Kangal declared.

Renata Teixeira, PRO of the group One Voice, also took jabs at the Prime Minister and Hart. “We have more things going wrong than right in this country,” Teixeira said. “This country’s money does not belong to them. We should let them know that it belongs to the citizens of this country. We are the ones to tell them how to spend it, when to spend it, and how much to spend. It is our hard earned tax payers dollars. ”

Trade unionist David Abdullah expressed concern about the state of crime in the country.

“We are not free to take walks in the night. There is a sense of hopelessness in this country where crime is concerned, and it is fuelling the crime situation. At the root of this problem, is the problem of governance. By your presence here today you are telling the administration that we are fed-up and disgusted at the state of affairs in this country,” he said.



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