THE EDITOR: In an interesting letter published in the Newsday on November 8, Rex Chookolingo noted that, in order to get his first job, he was forced to join a union, even though he preferred not to do so.
Paradoxically, however, Chookolingo concludes his letter by asserting that the Petrotrin situation proves how necessary unions are, arguing that the country “could save billions of dollars if the likes of WASA, CAL, T&TEC etc could all become union/employee-owned which would give workers and management skin in the game and force the companies to become efficient engines of commerce that either make a profit or are sold to someone who will.”
His conclusion, however, founders on two grounds. First, the fundamental ideology of trade unions militates against them making decisions which are necessary for a company to be profitable, since a union’s first function is to get as many benefits for workers while giving as little as possible in return.
Second, the formula suggested by Chookolingo has never worked anywhere in the world, which is why there are no unions which have successfully managed even a parlour shop.
The most recent example of a union failing to learn from current events is the Communications Workers Union which, mere weeks after the mighty OWTU lost in the Industrial Court, decided to take TSTT to the IC as well, rather than seeking to co-operate with management in order to ensure the company remains viable.
Now, retrenchment is, unsurprisingly, being implemented by TSTT. In this context, it is worth remembering that, almost 28 years ago, the same CWU strenuously objected to the Government closing the money-losing Telco and Textel and forming the new TSTT (which, since its inception, is one of the few, if not only, state enterprise which has never had to be subsidised).
It is that attitude which makes Chookolingo’s argument untenable and his new faith in the necessity of unions unfounded.
ELTON SINGH, Couva