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Tuesday 10 December 2019
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Commentary

Let’s stand with the men in blue

APOSTLE TERRENCE HONORE

WE HAIL the recent acquisition of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery by the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) as a milestone in the history of our country. It’s a long time coming – from the days of the barefoot “warriors” in the muddy tracks of the early oilfields. It’s like a big oil find of yesteryear.

It was the toil in the oil that shaped our land and gave energy and growth to our beautiful country. Our economic history is intertwined with that of the emergence and rise of the OWTU. It’s an institution that has stood against the tyranny of the past, the bastions of imperialism and the exploitation of our resources and our people. It fought to promote our dignity and preserve our land. Now it stands with this new acquisition in hand.

The next stage of our journey is being championed by those men and women who have held the reins of labour for these many years, as it is said, through blood, sweat and tears. The tables have turned and now the OWTU sits on the other side, to bargain for effective management of our refinery and to represent members of the working class. We stand with you.

But there is no magic wand to the restoration of the energy sector, after years of decline. The OWTU has played its role well on the national stage, not giving an inch to those who have sought to exploit our little island, big with oil and gas. The power has shifted hands, like a chess game of eminent proportions; the fortunes of the oil industry now favour the brave, those who stood in the rain and made the call – forward ever, backward never.

We saw the chimney stacks of the sugar cane industry fall and give way to the oil refinery with its silvery columns of steel, now glittering hopefully in the sun. They stand like silent sentinels to our past, now awaiting their day of liberation. The refinery needed a saviour.

It has always been a bread and butter issue, all about survival of our economy, of our country. Ours is a culture derived from oil exploits and largely deprived from sharing in the wealth and success in a meaningful way. The countryside looks sad, with towns like Fyzabad still waiting on their redemption. And the man in the market waits for an intervention, while the eager child seeks to secure the future in his school bag.

The OWTU can work to change this situation. It has to rise to another challenge, but that has been its nature. Many have tried to court the warriors of the OWTU, fete them or persuade them but they must remain true to the ideals of trade unionism – to stand for the rights of the downtrodden, the poor and needy. It’s biblical in its scope and intent. The preachy posture was indeed adopted by the first leader, Uriah “Buzz” Butler, in righting the wrongs for the working class.

But it’s of concern to note that some people are standing on the sidelines, looking on with cynicism at the proverbial “loud-mouth” union men, who struck fear in the hearts of the white colour class with their blue shirts and powerful lyrics.

The OWTU has achieved its long touted goals; it has overcome, even taken control, to stand as a giant in the land.

The men and women of the OWTU are now set to preserve our heritage and protect our national interest from the marauding sharks of the economic order.

And so we march on with the men in blue. Now that labour indeed holds the reins. Our country needs this group of hardy warriors to marshal their forces and to raise the banners of hope and prosperity.

We herald the spirit of those who have gone before, the many who stood up for “bread, peace and justice” to ensure the economic health and well-being of the people of TT.

It is well known that the Christian church has always stood with the men in blue as they sang the old gospel song “We shall overcome. We shall overcome someday,” an anthem that merged with the silent prayers of concerned wives and children. God has heard the cries and deep in our hearts we do believe, you have overcome.

To the other heroes of our land, who never received a national award, the men who toiled in the mud and late into the night, who prayed to God for “betterment” and for a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, your time has come.

Now we can see the old heroes of the early oil days sitting on their favourite chairs and chanting quietly into the night. Massa day now done! Let’s stand with the men in blue!

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