JTUM: Government must talk to unions on WASA restructuring

JTUM president Ancel Roget.
JTUM president Ancel Roget.

THE Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) said Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales must not discuss WASA restructuring with them but rather with the unions which represent WASA workers, according to a JTUM letter dated last Thursday to Gonzales. These unions are the NUGFW and PSA.

Last Saturday the Prime Minister at a PNM virtual rally said he was giving Gonzales six weeks to consults labour federations JTUM and NATUC on WASA. However NATUC and the unions have complained Dr Rowley's call was incorrect in that labour law says the individual unions must be consulted, not their federations. JTUM has reiterated this point.

The statement said, "We wish to state at the onset that the current process of restructuring at WASA being pursued as instructed by the Prime Minister is inconsistent with the principles of good industrial relations and contradicts the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act." The statement said JTUM was in full support of WASA's recognised majority unions, the NUGFW and PSA.

"We also wish to state categorically the Government's approach to restructuring state enterprises has always been to the detriment of the people of TT."

JTUM alleged the Government had sidelined unions in the past restructuring of Petrotrin plus the current restructuring of TSTT.

It said the Petrotrin restructuring had been a colossal failure, devastating the livelihoods of thousands and hurting the economy and its foreign exchange position.

JTUM said despite a 2018 memorandum of association between Petrotrin and the OWTU, the Government had adopted a unilateral approach to restructuring, rejecting the OWTU's proposals and sending home all workers. JTUM said the Communication Workers Union (CWU) had a similar experience when TSTT unilaterally sent home had 700 workers under the guise of restructuring three years ago. The statement said while that restructuring had been meant to put TSTT on an upward growth path, on January 17 the CWU was told of another restructuring which will further reduce the workforce. JTUM said the CWU had also had an experience in 2017 of the Government sending home over 100 workers at the Tourism Development Corporation allegedly for restructuring. It said the restructuring exercises at Petrotrin, TSTT and TDC were unilateral and had failed.

"It is clear the real intention of this Government's restructuring is to reduce the workforce and get rid of trade unions, collective agreements and decent work.

"Nevertheless should both the NUGFW and PSA, the recognised majority unions at WASA, deem it necessary, we at JTUM stand ready to share our experiences and expertise with them through their federation, the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC.)."


"JTUM: Government must talk to unions on WASA restructuring"

More in this section