Roget warns of mass demonstration in PoS
By Richardson Dhalai Wednesday, June 20 2012
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Fyzabad residents, took up every available vantage point to witness the annual labour day march from Avocat junction to Charlie King JUnction Fyzabad...
Even as he called on government to settle all outstanding wage negotiations within the next three months, leader of the Joint Trade Union Movement, (JTUM), Ancil Roget, also announced that a mass demonstration would take place through the streets of Port-of-Spain on September 7 as the labour movement embarked on a mobilisation drive.
Delivering the feature address at the annual Labour Day celebrations, at Charlie King Junction, Fyzabad, Roget, who is also president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, (OWTU), also advised the People’s Partnership Administration, (which he continually referred to as the UNC — the major party within the four party coalition government), to “begin addressing all the demands and issues identified by MSJ which are all reasonable.”
“Today in the spirit of Butler we call on the government of Trinidad and Tobago to settle all outstanding negotiations in three months: begin seriously addressing the Workers’ Agenda and begin addressing all the demands and issues identified by MSJ which are all reasonable,” Roget said.
“We call on all workers, social and community groups, political organisations, NGOs, our unemployed brothers and sisters, students and youth, all decent and patriotic citizens. All of us who want a different and better Trinidad and Tobago , to join with the Trade Union Movement on September 7 in Port-of-Spain,” he said, adding, “we will take Labour Day from the streets of Fyzabad to the streets of Port-of-Spain.”
And with MSJ leader, David Abdulah, also on the platform, Roget said the labour party’s withdrawal from the coalition government was “not to bring down the government” but to “uphold” the MSJ’s integrity and credibility.
“We want to say to you, Madame Prime Minister and all of our detractors, that the objective of MSJ’s departure was not to bring down the government, but rather it was to uphold our party’s integrity and credibility, a precious but scarce virtue that MSJ brought to the Partnership,” Roget said, adding, “ virtues that seems alien to the UNC but virtues which we will guard jealously.”
“So Minister Jack Warner, get your maths correct, one from five is definitely four, and when that one brought integrity to the Partnership, then with them leaving it is even less than four,” Roget said.
And noting that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had described the MSJ’s demands as “reckless and unreasonable”, Roget listed the party’s demands, which included settlement of wage negotiations, reform of labour law and constitutional and local government reform, saying forthright discussions should take place regarding the party’s concerns.
“You must let the country know madame Prime Minister, what is reckless about these demands and issues? Did you even take time to read them?” he asked.
“Any good leader with good intentions would have called in all of the partners, and begin honest and forthright discussions around these demands and concerns,” he added.
Roget also indirectly addressed the issue of former MSJ leader and Labour Minister, Errol McLeod, who has publicly stated that he would not be leaving the People’s Partnership Administration, saying he was still “loved” by members of the labour movement.
“On May 24, at the UNC celebrations in Mid Centre Mall, our comrade made the statement, that the vehicle that brought him into government took a detour. But today I want to tell him, that the vehicle that brought him and us into government had no choice but to take a detour, because as you would agree comrade, a safe driver, always observe all the road signs, and traffic regulations,” he said. “We were seeing all the warning signs that kept saying, depression ahead, major landslip, falling debris, wet and slippery road, well comrade I want to remind you that a safe and competent driver cannot ignore those traffic signs and therefore for a safe arrival at our destination, MSJ as a political vehicle had no choice but to take a detour,” Roget said, adding, “nevertheless, we still love you comrade, for your own safety, we would have preferred that you leave with us. But putting country first and for the benefit of all of the people we can no longer wait, we just had to go.”
In a wide ranging address which lasted well over one hour, Roget also promised the Highway Re-Route Movement to stand by them should attempts be made to bulldoze their Debe camp site.
“We want to make it clear that any attempt to move the Highway Re-Route Movement or break down their camp, or to drive any bulldozer further, will be met with the might of the Joint Trade Union movement,” Roget said.
Earlier, Abdulah, who participated in the traditional Labour Day march from Avocat Junction to Charlie King Junction, was constantly referred to as the nation’s next Prime Minister by several labour leaders, including FITUN president, Joseph Remy and Amalgamated Workers’ Union, president, Michael Prentiss and Farmers Association president, Chariots Khan.
According to Remy, who is also president general of the Communications Workers’ Union, (CWU), said Abdulah possessed integrity and had demonstrated to the UNC led coalition that he did not have to “eat ah food” by his announcement of the MSJ’s pullout last Sunday.
Meanwhile several government Ministers including Local Government Minister and Fyzabad MP, Chandresh Sharma, Environment Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and Transport Minister Devant Maharaj, who had gathered at Sharma’s Fyzabad constituency offices to witness the march were on the receiving end of verbal jibes and songs as several workers, on seeing the Ministers began singing and chanting union and other songs which were not flattering to the government or Persad-Bissessar.
The march and rally attracted a large gathering of workers from throughout the labour movement including members from the “real” Public Services Association; Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association; National Union of Government and Federated Workers’ Union; Banking, Insurance and General Workers’ Union; and Contractors and General Workers’ Union.