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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