THE EDITOR: I read with interest a letter by Lynette Joseph, titled “Butler would say move forward and reinvent.” Let me say from the beginning that Joseph makes some useful points but I respectfully disagree with some of her postulations.
The idea of reinvention is a principle which has been used in the main by commercial organisations within the process of strategic planning. The term used internationally as it applies to trade unions is “revitalisation” on which a number of items of literature exist pertaining to various international labour federations.
My point of departure is while trade unions have to and have been employing new tools, this cannot and should not be at the expense of the old tried and tested tools employed by the trade union movement.
Joseph needs to realise that there are different models of trade unions and it is among those who have been employing the agency model and the Fosterite approach that the accommodation has been made to accept a business model which exposes the union to all kinds of criticism. Trade unions that have adopted the organising model and the Butlerite approach have not adopted the posture and attitude which seems to have offended Joseph.
Joseph needs to realise that not because “people can vote” there is an excuse to vary the real mission of the trade union movement. The level of inequality, inclusive of income inequality which exists in TT, is entirely unacceptable. There is no “state of collapse of local and foreign financial institutions.” Despite the financial crisis, financial institutions have returned to their ivory tower positions of privilege in the society.
No measure of attitudinal change can be used to justify retrenchment. Retrenchment without adequate social security is a recipe for social disaster due to reduction of purchasing power and a tailspin into the abyss of recession.
Trade unions do not exist to merely administrate over retrenchment exercises. We have a duty to protect jobs and I dare say that if Comrade Uriah Butler was alive he would stand firmly with the leaders of the trade union movement.
As our LEAP presentation declares, we have to grow out of the crisis. Jobless growth defies any concept of real development. The economic approach that it is inevitable that workers will be retrenched is an outdated model. We need to keep workers employed and not put a further burden on the State and taxpayers who inevitably would have to support the unemployed.