They are not doing that,” said Ancel Roget, President General of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) yesterday during a news conference at The Dial in Arima.
Roget said that during Labour Day celebrations in Fyzabad the trade unions had committed themselves to the August 4 protest and were now going through the country to sensitise workers about the issues that have inspired the protest. Roget said they were “Not just labour issues, but people issues, man in the street issues, man on the ground issues which generally affect Trinidad and Tobago.” He said Tobago was not being left out and last Friday the unions had staged a “good and powerful” meeting in Tobago and the labour federations were determined to go all over the country to make workers aware of the planned protest on August 4. “We are about rescuing the country, rescuing citizens and workers generally that is why we are here this morning.
The people of Arima are no different from the people in Port of Spain, and San Fernando and Sangre Grande, Mayaro and throughout the country because anywhere you go the people are disenchanted, dissatisfied and they are suffering and we believe that the only true body that can speak truly on behalf of the people and can bring some measure of relief.” In fact, Roget said that it was probably because the trade unions had not been active enough that there had been such a display of bad governance manifested in disrespect for workers and the trade union movement. In response to a question, Roget said the “tripartite conversation” has failed.
“Are they committed to tripartism and the body that is responsible for that failed to excite and to ignite the type of discussion to really get things going. You would imagine that in this period more than any other period that is required but the Government failed.
As a matter of fact while we were discussing, Government and employers were sending workers home.
“You would recall the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) workers among others, so how could we be in discussion discussing how should we share the burden of adjustment and at the same time the Government, who is one of the tripartite partners in that arrangement, they are sending workers home. And that is wrong and we said that we will withdraw ourself until you halt that and then we will come back to the table because we are all equals.” Among other things, the August 4th protest will demand an end to mass retrenchment; sustainable jobs; the settlement of outstanding negotiations; increased minimum wage; timely payment of pension and gratuity to Police; teachers; public sector workers; the end to contract labour and support for local farmers.