THE EDITOR: The history of the TT trade union movement has been well documented. We know of the struggles, the hardships, the determination to make lives better for workers. The heroes of those past years, Adrian Cola Rienzi and Tubal Uriah Butler, will never be forgotten. After the uprising of 1937, salaries and lives gradually improved. Belonging to a trade union added so much more to the well-being of the labour force.
I believe unions are there to guide, protect and improve the conditions for all in the workspace. And, importantly, we have an Industrial Court to ensure fairness for all.
Many years ago I belonged to the Public Services Association (PSA). Because I was clerical staff, I never really thought of workers as struggling. I went to the office cricket matches. I enjoyed the after-work lime on a Friday evening at PSA headquarters. I played tennis. Life was good. But then I travelled to see the rest of the world and my perception changed about my role as a worker.
Throughout my lengthy sojourn in England, I became far more aware of the importance of belonging to a union. My union representative came to visit me very early into my contract. He did not mince words. He explained the acute importance of my performance appraisal. There is no increase in yearly salary unless you come up to scratch.
So, forget about arriving late for work. Too much snow? If bad weather was predicted you were supposed to leave home early. Not managing your workload? The union advised time management classes. Calling in sick entailed being seen by the staff doctor. No private medical letters would suffice. You gave value for money or you walked out of a job.
Fast forward to TT where paying your dues would likely guarantee secure employment. But what of productivity from all ranges of the public sector workforce? Police, nurses, firefighters, soldiers, clerical officers in all government offices?
We cannot dream to compare salaries for public sector workers to those in the First World. Why? Because out there salaries are paid from the billions of dollars collected from property tax. Axing property tax in TT was a mistake made in 2010 that will dog us forever. Easy to say the Government has mismanaged TT but no trade union will ever agree that Petrotrin and Caroni Ltd had to be closed.
Here, political beauty or political censure lies in the eyes of selective beholders.
So, what will happen to this country if, for example, the censorious David Abdulah and the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) ruled TT?