Tobago workers are being exploited because they do not know their rights according to Oil Workers Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget. He said those workers had no representation and, because of this, Tobago employers had taken advantage for years.
Speaking at the opening of the OWTU Tobago office uptown Scarborough on Friday, Roget said he was prepared to create a movement through a programme, to teach Tobago's workforce of their rights and encourage them to join a union.
“I can say so with surety because those are the reports that come to us and they are the matters we deal with in Tobago. We have a duty and responsibility to ensure the representation for Tobago be of a higher and equal quality to what we give in Trinidad.”
Roget said the battle for the fair treatment of Tobagonians had just started and the goal was to ensure “people are able to feed and decently maintain their families at every take throughout Tobago.”
He said, “It is quite a big number of workers here in Tobago that don’t know of their basic rights as workers and, therefore, if you do not know about your right that you have as a worker, you cannot access that right and then you are at the merciless hands of that employer.”
He said the absence of an industrial court in Tobago was the core of the issues and priority must be placed on both Trinidad and Tobago when dealing with industrial issues.
“The logistical arrangement is horrendous to be able to leave Tobago to go to Trinidad to get justice. Justice should be everywhere and we feel the requisite ministry and the government should make the resources available to the court to ensure that the court is set up and well-resourced here in Tobago.
"By doing this, it will remove the delay of justice for Tobago workers. He encouraged the government to follow in the steps of the Tobago House of Assembly to keep unemployment levels low.
Roget said the opening ceremony for the Tobago office was a proud moment for the union. He also hinted about plans to strengthen the labour movement in Tobago using the Charlotteville Campbellton Estate owned by the OWTU.
He said the union was not focused on creating enemies between workers, the THA and the private sector but simply hopes employers would understand that workers must be treated with dignity and respect.
“We are going to make a lot of friends here in Tobago but we are ready to make a lot of enemies and not for the wrong reason for the simple reason we stand for justice, fair play.
We stand up against corruption and we condemn corrupt people and their actions and we are for a society that has the power to determine their own destiny and social equity.”