UNION leaders have declared September 1 Freedom Day,when hundreds of people are being asked to come out – the day after the extended state of emergency is expected to expire – to express their displeasure at decisions taken by the government in the last 17 months.
The call was made at a virtual press conference on Thursday hosted by Oilfield Workers' Trade Union president Ancel Roget. It was attended by Idi Stuart, president of the TT Registered Nurses Association; National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) general secretary Michael Annisette; Joseph Remy, president of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions; Clyde Elder, general secretary of the Communications Workers’ Union; and representatives of the Trinidad General Workers Union and Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union, to name a few.
Remy said his members will call on the government to paint a clearer picture of TT’s future direction.
Annisette said his members would march against discrimination as, over the past month, their jobs have been threatened for refusal to take the covid19 vaccine.
Roget, in his call for action, said covid19 guidelines will be observed on the day.
“If you do not stand up and have your voices heard, shouting against it, demanding them to stop the increases in food and utilities –because that will bring about a compounding effect of cost of living in the country.
“Following all covid19 rules, we go out. We must go to occupy the streets, to tell the world, all is not well in TT, we must be prepared to signal to the world that the trade union movement is alive.
“…More workers are losing their jobs while workers are being placed on the breadline by privatisation of the port, NP, T&TEC, WASA, TTPost – all of which will have the devastating impact of putting more workers on the breadline.
He said the march will highlight: “The government's lack of policy direction; issues which affect the economy; agriculture; issues affecting the energy sector, which is in peril as we speak; issues with respect to the lack of concern for industrial relations in this country; and issues that affect the working class; and the issue of massive retrenchment."
He also called on opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to join the unions on their “freedom” march.
“It will be Frreedom Day for the trade union movement, Freedom Day for the people to be in the streets, Freedom Day for us to come out and to voice our concern, our dissatisfaction with the type of governance meted out to people.”
The unions will demand that the government reconsiders any plans to extend the state of emergency.
The SoE was declared on May 15 for 15 days, then extended by Parliament for three months. It is due to expire at the end of August.
Section 10(1) of the Constitution states, “before its expiration the Proclamation may be extended from time to time by resolution supported by a simple majority vote of the House of Representatives, so however that no extension exceeds three months and the extensions do not in the aggregate exceed six months;”
If the government decides to extend the SoE, the unions cannot host their "Freedom Day" march.
Roget said the unions would take action if Parliament moves to extend the SoE.