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posted 10 Jan 2012, 17:02 by Unknown user

 by Gerry Kangalee



The National Workers Union (NWU) congratulates the workers at the port of Port of Spain, members of the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU) and Trinidad Cement Ltd., members of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), for taking direct action in an effort to beat back the government-inspired wage suppression policy. Given the government’s hard headedness and arrogance in imposing the five percent wage cap on public sector workers and the eagerness of the capitalists to follow suit, it was bound to come to this. More.


posted 10 Jan 2012, 17:01 by Unknown user

by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 14 Nov 2011 17:59 ]
On Saturday 12th November 2011, it was announced that the Macoya Wholesale Market was renamed in honour of Norris Deonarine.

The announcement was made by Minister of Agriculture, Vasant Bharat at the 37th anniversary celebration of the National Foodcrop Farmers' Association (NFFA) held at the then Macoya Market. 

Norris, who was the Education Officer of the NFFA and the leading spokesperson for small farmers, died in February aged 52.

Now if we could seriously embark on a programme of building food security with small farmers at the centre, that would be the ultimate honour.
Painting of Norris by Rafiki

Natuc cossabo endorses hunger marchWelcome

posted 10 Jan 2012, 17:00 by Unknown user

by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 13 Feb 2011 10:08 ]

The COSSABO organised by the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) on February 12th 2011 at TIWU Hall endorsed a programme of action which includes a night  vigil in Port of Spain on March 11th; a Hunger March from Aranjuez to Port of Spain on 19th March and what has been described by some as a national sick out on March 21st

As expected there was a very small turnout (about sixty five) of officers and shop stewards, except for Contractors and General Workers’ Trade Union (CGWTU), although there were thirteen unions present including the Public Services Association (PSA) National Workers’ Union, the Maxi Taxi Association and the Custom Brokers’ Association. The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) sent an apology for its absence.

As expected the COSSABO was dominated by those who sat at the head table. There were long presentations and interventions from the president of NATUC, former Senator and UDECOTT Board member Michael Annisette.

He reported that NATUC’s executive had met with the prime minister who indicated that there were discussions taking place with unions about a social compact! He kept harping on, as he and OWTU’s Ancel Roget have of late, on the issue of workers’ productivity and he launched a bitter invective against trade union unity when, as he said, there was disrespect from the so-called progressives in the movement.

Also addressing the COSSABO were: Vice President Joefield of the PSA; President of the Steel Workers Union (SWUTT), Lex Lovell; President of CGWTU Ainsley Matthews. James Lambert, President of the National Union of Government and Federated Workers’ (NUGFW) made a presentation in which he burst into song.

There were presentations from the floor from union reps representing NUGFW, Seamen and Waterfront Workers’ Trade Union and National Workers’ Union.

CGWTU’s Ainsley Matthews described the Cossabo as NATUC’s first. They certainly need to realise that a COSSABO is not yet another arena for trade union leaders to gallery themselves but a forum where the frontline union reps are motivated to participate in making analysis and recommendations about the matter under discussion. 


posted 10 Jan 2012, 16:58 by Unknown user

by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 18 Dec 2010 18:25 ]

There was much talk by president of the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC), Michael Anisette, of a sleeping giant (NATUC) having awakened as the labour federation’s hastily-organised demonstration wended its way through the streets of Port of Spain from its Memorial Park starting point on Friday 17th  December. 

Anisette harangued the workers for the duration of the demonstration from atop a music truck and in turn threatened and pleaded with the government to pay decent wages to public sector workers. In between the threats and pleas, he expressed disappointment and scorn for the leaders of unions that did not take part in the demonstration and proclaimed that NATUC was the labour movement.

The four hundred or so workers who answered the call to demonstrate against the government’s five percent offer to public sector workers, including daily paid workers employed with Central and local government sported jerseys of several unions affiliated to NATUC. 

Prominent among them were Contractors and General Workers’ Union, Amalgamated Workers’ Union, Transport and Industrial Workers’ Union (TIWU), Postal Workers’ Union, Seamen and Waterfront Workers’ Union, National Union of Government and Federated Workers’ Union NUGFW).

President of the Public Services Association, Watson Duke marched alongside President of the Steel Workers Union, Lex Lovell. Participating in the march were Comrades Gerry Kangalee and Dave Smith of the National Workers Union.

The march ended at the Brian Lara Promenade. Leaders addressed the workers and urged them to keep up the struggle. Watson Duke informed the crowd that the Public Services Association would hold a demonstration on January 4th 2011 and urged them to participate. President of NUGFW, James Lambert, mystifyingly dubbed the demo one for efficiency and productivity and Comrade Roland Sutherland of TIWU reminded the workers that capitalists all over the world were trying to force the workers to pay for the crisis that the capitalists themselves had created...


posted 10 Jan 2012, 16:56 by Unknown user



Friday 9th July 2010

Four years ago, at the last installation ceremony of the Transport and Industrial Workers’ Union, I, on behalf of the then executive, vowed to restore the dignity and respect of our glorious union and to place it in the vanguard of the labour movement in Trinidad and Tobago, and, indeed, the Caribbean.

In attempting to achieve that strategic goal, we embarked on an extensive and intensive programme of training and education of our officers, shop stewards and activists aimed at lifting, through them, the consciousness of our members and their ability to protect, defend and advance their interests as a class – the working class. This task, I dare say, we have achieved.

In addition, we aimed at upgrading the competence and skill levels of those who represent our members to make that representation as effective and efficient as it can become, given the hostile and debilitating industrial relations and political environment within which unions have had to operate, particularly over the last twenty years. 

Eight of the executive officers being installed this evening are products of these programmes. I feel quite confident that they possess the ability and commitment to move our great union forward as they grow accustomed to holding the mantle of leadership.

We fully intend to continue to pursue further training for shop stewards and officers in the expectation that the term ahead will be crucial in determining the leadership succession that must be prepared if TIWU is to meet the challenges of the twenty first century.

During the past period, our union and the labour movement as a whole faced tremendous challenges. There was a vicious attempt to decertify both the Communications Workers’ Union and TIWU at the Telecommunications Service and the Public Transport Service Corporation respectively.

This assault backfired decisively in that trade unions from both federations rallied to the defence of the two unions and forced the state corporations and the government to retract their positions.

Let me hasten to add that during that period an injunction was taken out against PTSC workers. This injunction was obtained during the wee hours of foreday morning on September 14th 2009. PTSC workers were instructed to cease protest action and return to work in the wake of a work stoppage which took place in conformity with the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Industrial Relations Act and ILO convention 155 of 1981 article 19 f which states: “a worker reports forthwith to his immediate supervisor any situation which he has reasonable justification to believe presents an imminent and serious danger to his life or health; until the employer has taken remedial action, if necessary, the employer cannot require workers to return to a work situation where there is continuing imminent and serious danger to life or health”.

It is a legal absurdity that the Minister of Labour has the right in the so-called interest of the state to override the right of the worker to protect his life and limb. What use is a legal right if it cannot be exercised?

We, therefore, call upon the new Minister of Labour to withdraw the injunction which hangs like an albatross around the necks of public transport workers and is designed to inhibit them from taking so-called “protest action” over negotiations and other disputes.

This call is made in the light of the fact that former Minister Against Labour Rennie Dumas, in response to a journalist who asked why the injunction was not removed, said that there was no reason to remove it because once workers continued to do their work they had nothing to fear. We are confident that Minister McLeod will not endorse such arrant abuse and disrespect of workers’ rights. 

The Transport and Industrial Workers Union is a member of NATUC. Although I am on the executive of that labour federation it would be naive of me to turn a blind eye to NATUC’s lack of proactivity. It always seems to be in reactive mode, while other organisations seize the time and seem more on the ball when it comes to pursuing issues affecting the working class forcefully and urgently.

This laissez faire attitude on the part of NATUC elicits sentiments and statements from the leaders of NATUC units that do not reflect positively on the organisation. Some tome ago NATUC met in retreat and developed a programme which up to now has not been implemented. NATUC IS IN URGENT NEED OF REFORM! If not, then NATUC will not be able to step up its activity in defence of workers which is the very reason for its existence. 

Given all that I have said, I must comment on the calls that we have heard for one trade union centre. While TIWU welcomes the call, we are a bit perplexed as to what process will be used to achieve that objective. I am not aware of any invitation being extended to NATUC to be a part of any discussion aimed at constructing one federation.

All unions need to raise the level of their vigilance as we go into negotiation battles with the employers. Their new mantra is “the global economic decline” as they strengthen their long standing modus operandi of offering us the crumbs from their banquet tables.

We in TIWU are faced with wage offers of 0-0-1/4%; of 0-1-2% and in some instances no wage offer. Our position is that if that is the direction in which negotiations are heading, then it is our duty, our sacred responsibility, to do all in our power to prepare our troops for “WAR” to ensure that workers are able to defend their standard of living as the capitalists utilise their considerable power to make the working class of the world pay for the crisis that they, the capitalists, have created in their mad rush to accumulate capital.

What else is the role of the trade union if not to struggle against exploitation and to advance, protect and defend the standard of living of the working class? No union leader should divert from that commitment even if it leads to incarceration. Indeed, in some countries to be a trade unionist is to court assassination.

Let me take the opportunity to congratulate the People’s Partnership on their comprehensive election victory and to assure them of our support for policies and decisions that advance the interest of the working class. 

Let me also assure the members of TIWU and you who have gathered here this evening that we will fight with every fibre of our being against policies and decisions that retard and hamper the forward march of the working class.

In closing, let me place on record our profound thanks to all those unions and workers who supported TIWU and CWU in our battle against decertification.

We, in TIWU, will support all unions engaged in struggle to defend workers against exploitation and to safeguard the standard of living of their members, regardless of what labour federation they belong to or if they belong to no federation at all. It is our sacred duty.
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posted 10 Jan 2012, 16:54 by Unknown user

Sutherland Urges McLeod To Lift PTSC Injunction
On July 9th the installation of executive officers of the Transport and Industrial Workers' Union (TIWU) took place at TIWU Headquarters in Laventille.TIWU conducted nominations for executive officers on 27th May 2010. Those nominated were unopposed. The new term runs from 2010 to 2014.
The installation exercise was conducted by former TIWU president, Comrade Clive Nunez. The feature address was given by legal adviser Clyde Weatherhead. Proceedings were chaired by National Education Officer of the National Workers' Union (NWU) Comrade Gerry Kangalee. Comrade Roland Sutherland delivered a powerful presidential address in which he called on the Mnister of Labour to lift the injunction against PublicTransport Service Corporation workers taking protest action.
The Executive is made up as follows: Roland Sutherland (President), Lois Pollidore (First Vice President), Anand Bachchan (Second Vice President), Judy Charles (General Secretary), Elicia Douglas Cruickshank (Assistant General Secretary), Sheldon Phillips (General Officer), Jennifer Jack Barras (General Officer), Nolan Swift (Trustee), Clarence Duke (Trustee), Atibah Babb (Trustee).
It is significant that six of the ten-member executive are first timers. It certainly seems that TIWU is well prepared to meet the challenges of the future. 

TIWU Will Not Tolerate Treatment of Migrant Workers

posted 10 Jan 2012, 16:52 by Unknown user

TIWU Will Not Tolerate Treatment of Migrant Workers

The Transport and Industrial Workers’ Union (TIWU) is appalled by the treatment meted out to the workers of the Chinese Construction Company Beijing Luijan. 

These migrant workers live under inhumane conditions and are ruthlessly exploited by their employers with the silent connivance of the government of Trinidad and Tobago.

When the workers who claim they have not been paid for months and who actually had to pay the company to secure work in T&T, protested, quite rightly, for their money riot police were summoned to terrorise and intimidate them for claiming their entitlement.

TIWU is mindful of our history of slavery and indentureship where our ancestors came to a strange land, unable to speak the language, were forced to live in barrack-like conditions and to work long hours for little or no compensation. Are we going back to the days of indentureship? The only thing that is different is that the Chinese migrant workers live, not in barracks, but in containers and concentration camps.

Imagine these atrocities are taking place under the watch of the Manning regime with a Minister of Labour who seems to have neither power nor influence to ensure that the laws of T&T are complied with. We, in T&T, including in the labour movement, have remained silent for too long.

When the Chinese migrant workers laboured like dogs to complete the Tranquillity school on time they were held up as models for local workers. Who cared that their conditions of work were slavery-like. The attitude is work hard, shut your mouth and take whatever we feel to give you. 

TIWU calls on the government the Minister of Labour, to intervene in a firm manner to stop this blatant exploitation of labour and to ensure that these workers receive their entitlements. The decent work agenda to which the government purports to subscribe demands no less. The International Labour Organisation should investigate this matter closely

TIWU calls upon the government to review all contractors with Chinese firms and ensure that the workers they bring in this country are treated like human beings and afforded conditions no less advantageous than that enjoyed by workers of T&T.

It seems that the atrocious treatment of the Chinese migrant workers is the model that the government wants to use to suppress the workers of PTSC, WASA, TSTT and other state enterprises. If we allow them to continue the ruthless exploitation and suppression of migrant workers, then how can we argue when they treat us in the same way? We will not tolerate it.

TIWU Frowns on Chamber's Move

posted 10 Jan 2012, 16:51 by Unknown user

TIWU Frowns on Chamber's Move

25 June 2010

Recent moves by the T&T Chamber of Commerce suggest that the private sector is poised to take advantage of the maintenance possibilities arising out of the past government’s construction of “tall buildings” on the waterfront and other areas in Port of Spain.

Angella Persad, President of the Chamber, told the Second Annual Caribbean Facilities Management and Maintenance Conference held at the Hyatt Hotel on June 21st: “This is an excellent opportunity for public private sector collaboration, where the private sector can work with the Government to manage and maintain these Government buildings properly to give us the number of years of efficient and cost effective service that they were meant to do,”

Ms. Persad speaks of public private sector collaboration, but the Transport and Industrial Workers’ Union (TIWU) wishes to remind all concerned that the National Maintenance, Training and Security Company (MTS) was set up for that very purpose.

In 1979 MTS was born, as a state owned company (fully owned by the people. of Trinidad and Tobago). Over time, MTS became responsible for the maintenance of over 78 schools and public institutions, including the Financial Complex, National Stadium, Jean Pierre Complex and the Hall of Justice. 

Outside of this, MTS had also been involved in doing maintenance work for the Carnival Development Committee (CDC). Airport Authority, Central Bank. Ministry of Education, Tobago House of Assembly as well as agricultural projects and landscaping for the Ministry of Health, King George V Park, National Gas Company and technical maintenance jobs for such institutions as C.A.S.T. in Signal Hill and Roxborough in Tobago. 

MTS has proved itself to be an efficient and effective organisation. It developed as a specialist company and provided expert and efficient maintenance skills in such varied areas as: Janitorial Maintenance, Grounds Maintenance, Masonry, Water and Sewerage Systems, Electrical/Electronic and Machine Systems, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Systems and Equipment, Welding, Termite Treatment, Piano Repairs, Lathes, Milling Machines, Business Machines, Household Appliances, Vehicle Maintenance, Metal Working Machines, Garment Machines, Hydraulic Equipment, Radial Arm Drills etc. 

New skill sets that may be necessary to engage in the maintenance of these new buildings can easily be assimilated by MTS workers who are employees of a thirty year old company which has developed a body of knowledge which is unrivalled in the industry.

TIWU is very concerned that the Chamber’s new-found interest in the area of building maintenance and facilities management may foreshadow the entry into the field of European companies which may enter into joint ventures with members of the Chamber to the detriment of MTS. 

Provisions of the European Partnership Agreement (EPA) may put pressure on the state to withdraw from the provision of environmental and other such services and give foreign capitalists free rein to establish dominance over new areas of our economy with the support of local companies who are attuned more to the quick buck than to national economic development.

TIWU will strenuously oppose any move in that direction and will bring all resources to bear in our struggle to protect, defend and advance the jobs and standard of living of our members.


posted 10 Jan 2012, 16:48 by Unknown user

TIWU: Udecott Board Must Resign

The Executive Committee of the Transport and Industrial Workers’ Union (TIWU) at its statutory meeting of 2010-03-08 noted with keen interest the resignation of Calder Hart from all the state boards and, in particular, from his position as Executive Chairman of UDECOTT.

The executive committee noted with concern but not surprise that Calder Hart had apparently fled the country in the wake of his resignation.

The executive committee believes that a full scale criminal investigation must be launched into the operation of UDECOTT.

The executive committee calls upon the remaining board members of UDECOTT to resign immediately. 

The executive committee warns the government that the people of Trinidad and Tobago are highly agitated over the implications of the UDECOTT affair and will not be content with any mamaguy investigation meant to obfuscate the issues, cover up wrong doing and protect wrong doers, whether at the level of the UDECOTT board and/or management or at the level of the political directorate.
Judy Charles
General Secretary


posted 10 Jan 2012, 16:47 by Unknown user



The Employers’ Consultative Association (ECA), the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce and the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) have all criticised the call by the People’s Democracy for a two day shutdown on Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th November. The Transport and Industrial Workers’ Union (TIWU), which is a member of the People’s Democracy condemns the ECA’s advice to employers as to how to deal with workers who stay at home. We consider it threatening and intimidatory and put the ECA and employers on notice that the labour Movement and the People’s Democracy will not tolerate the victimisation of any worker who supports the call. 

We stand by the statement of the General Secretary of the National Trade Union Centre, Comrade Vincent Cabrera that some employers prefer that workers  suffer silently once they make a profit at the end of the day. Let us make it clear: TIWU, the labour movement and the People’s Democracy will not suffer silently. We will not suffer silently in the face of injustice! We will not suffer silently in the face of the brutalisation of our youth!

We will not suffer silently in the face of labour laws designed to support the exploitation of labour; dismissals, suspensions and attacks upon state enterprise workers; massive retrenchment of non-unionised workers; the increasing casualisation of the workforce through the use of contract labour; the elimination of  jobs through forced mergers and union–busting by the state! 

We will not suffer silently in the face of deceptive and oppressive property taxation. We will not suffer silently in the face of food price inflation and the continuing discrimination against small farmers in their effort to develop a policy of food sovereignty so that we could stay afloat in a dog eat dog world where food is increasingly becoming a question of national security and national survival!

We will not suffer silently while the government in its scramble to serve the interests of transnational corporations degrade the environment, destroy the ecosystem, endanger the health of whole communities and indeed destroy community lifestyles that developed over generations so that toxin-spewing smelters may enlarge an already too large carbon footprint. 

We will not suffer silently while UDECOTT and other governmental agencies misuse and squander our national patrimony on grandiose mega projects without a shred of transparency and accountability and our people have to block roads and burn tyres to enjoy basic amnesties like proper roads, potable water, decent health care, quality education, access to decent pensions and a civilised quality of life free from rampant criminality! 

We will not suffer silently while our already perverted political system sinks further into the quick sand of centralisation of power and maximum leadership to the detriment of the democratic aspirations of our people!

The ECA, the Chamber and the TTMA have, once again, demonstrated that the overriding tendency of capitalist economic system is toward the pursuit of profit maximisation at the expense of everything else. The mentality of the plantocracy is alive and well. 

What these throwbacks must understand is that the cat is already out of the bag and while the trade union movement is central and critical to the implementation of the programme of the People’s Democracy, at last count forty three organisations have subscribed to the programme of the People’s Democracy, including farmers’ organisations, fisher folk, community groups, single issue organisations, environmentalists, non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations.

These backward-looking organisations that seek to maintain an increasingly unsustainable status quo should take a leaf out of the book of Stephen Cadiz, the President of the Chaguanas Chamber of Commerce who is quoted as saying that businessmen have a civic responsibility to support the shut down. “It’s not just about the dollar and about how much money they have in the bank.”.

The members of the ECA, Chamber and TTMA must either learn the lesson of history that human endeavour constantly widens the scope for human liberation or they will be swept away by the march toward participatory democracy at the workplace and in the community: unmourned and unremembered.

Roland Sutherland

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