TTUTA president Lynsley Doodhai said the organisation will remain politically non-aligned, as he reacted to a recent call by UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for trade unions to join the Opposition to unseat the Government in the upcoming local and general elections.
“TTUTA has always prided itself on being an apolitical organisation and does not take any political sides or biases,” Doodhai told Newsday.
He said over the years TTUTA has been a member of various umbrella groups, most recently the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM.) However, despite the JTUM taking political sides in recent general elections in 2010 and 2015, TTUTA had not done likewise.
“Notwithstanding TTUTA being part of JTUM, we don’t subscribe to showing political bias.”
Doodhai said, “TTUTA will not be a part of any arrangement with the UNC or PNM or any other party, because we pride ourselves on being apolitical.”
Otherwise, he said TTUTA is awaiting Justice Kokaram’s ruling on September 11 as to whether marking school-based assessments for the CXC exams does or does not form part of a teacher’s duties. Doodhai also anticipated TTUTA holding a public march by teachers in early October to protest delays in paying them the upgrades for their salaries. He said TTUTA is still negotiating for 2014-2017, awaiting the CPO’s counter-offer, and a second negotiating period 2017-2020. “Teachers are working under 2014 salaries,” Doodhai lamented.
SWWTU leader Michael Annisette said trade unions had backed both the UNC and PNM in successive general elections but this had neither benefited the labour movement nor fixed the shortcomings of the political system.
"It brought no tangible benefits to the trade union movement."
He said any uniting of unions and political parties must be genuine.
"It cannot be just a token coming-together, but must mean something for labour and the working class.
"Given our political system, do we need to change it so as to empower labour and communities to have a real say, rather than joining political parties. We must democratise democracy.
"It must be more than just voting every five years, but be an ongoing exercise where communities are empowered."
Annisette said issues that needed to be fixed were the "maximum leader" syndrome of TT politics, procurement, including that of two new ferries bought by the Prime Minister, port workers living on salary levels seven years outdated, crime and an education system whose secondary graduates cannot read and write but contribute to social unrest.
"Joining political parties, but to not talk of real democracy, is a waste of time."