ALTHOUGH the Opposition has put at 50,000, the number of workers who have lost their jobs since the People’s National Movement (PNM) was elected to office in 2015, president general of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget declared, “The labour movement is alive and well.”
“The fact that we are still standing strong and that we are resilient and that we are prepared to fight oppression and continue our mission set by our founding fathers, today we have quite a lot to thank God for,” Roget declared as he prepared to observe the 82nd anniversary of the movement in TT.
It is the first time in the history of the movement that the OWTU, which has claimed the space in Fyzabad on June 19, debarring other unions and politicians in the past from mounting that sacred platform, has been almost decimated, having lost the most militant of its members who previously worked at Petrotrin.
The union which falls the umbrella of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) is expecting to mount a powerful platform under the theme Unveiling the Truth.
OWTU’s chief education and research officer Ozzi Warwick said there will be frank and open discussions "to begin the process of opening the eyes of the people."
"We want to connect to what ordinary people are feeling in TT, including former Petrotrin workers, TSTT workers, workers who have been sent home, workers who are not unionised and feeling the impact of the increases in prices while the economy stands still.
“We expect a large show of force to demonstrate the movement is alive,” Warwick said
Addressing the On the Pavement meeting in Couva on Monday night, opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said, “this PNM government is the most wicked government as it relates to workers and the working people in this country.
“We warned workers and the trade union leaders to be careful when you try to play games with the PNM, they will destroy you.
“So said, so done. Today we have 50,000 plus workers on the breadline. Many families don’t know when they are getting their next wages, how they are putting bread or roti on the table. Today people are unemployed, they are in poverty, they are suffering as a result of the Keith Rowley and PNM policies which have led to the collapse of small businesses.
“But we cannot give up,” Moonilal said.
Movement for Justice political leader David Abdulah was optimistic that the closure of Petrotrin and loss of jobs will not deter people from attending the observances.
“The litmus test was the May Day celebrations in San Fernando. People thought that would have been a flop, that nobody from the blue shirt army would come out to march in San Fernando, but they did.”
Similarly, Abdulah said, thousands will make their presence felt as they did back in the 1930’s when workers were under attack.
“If you are under attack you have to come out fighting to defend your interest. Workers under attack in 1937 fought for their rights. They stood up and fought for justice, for what was right. The message to workers is to stand firm in defence of your interest.”