“The time for action is now,” Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union president general Ancel Roget declared, as he called on the working class to march to the office of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar next fortnight to demand implementation of the Workers Agenda.
Roget was addressing hundreds of workers at Labour Day celebrations in Fyzabad yesterday.
Saying exploitation, political victimisation, nepotism, incompetence and corruption were the hallmark of the Government, Roget said on July 5, workers will be going straight to Persad-Bissessar with their demands.
“In our thousands we will show that the power of the people is greater than the people in power! It’s time for us to hit the streets,” Roget said.
“We know how they like to control the police, so we are giving them advance notice. If you are serious about the issues of the people, Acting Commissioner (Stephen Williams), you will grant us permission. We will be going straight to the head of the Government.”
Saying he is no friend of Patrick Manning, Roget said the People’s Partnership did not have the support of the labour movement, except for a “few sell-out trade unionists”. He also expressed disgust that PNM people were being victimised by the PP. He also accused his predecessor, Labour Minister Errol McLeod, of not caring about the plight of the working class.
“Employers are taking out injunctions left, right and centre against workers and trade unions, while there is a deafening silence from the Minister of Labour, himself a prominent former labour leader,” he said.
As the crowds erupted in cheers, Roget said while McLeod boasted about “removing applications from the Industrial Court to decertify two trade unions, the stark reality is, that the same law that allows the employer to do this remains on the law books”. Roget also accused Finance Minister Larry Howai of using the recently-published Central Bank Monetary Policy Report to suggest that the economy is improving and that growth is increasing.
“They pulled out from the report that in 2011, growth was minus 2.6 per cent, and that in 2012 growth reached a positive of 0.2 per cent,” he said. “But what they did not and would not tell you is that our debt to GDP went from 33.4 per cent in 2011 to an unprecedented 39.7 per cent in 2012. This means that our debt levels are rising and rising fast.”
He added that despite the wanton spending and $50 billion-plus deficit budget, the minister had requested an additional $8 billion dollars. Whilst there have been little activity in the construction sector, Roget said the Government has not been able to stimulate the economy.
“Their excessive borrowing is an attempt to hide the fact that the economy has contracted. Simply put, we are spending much more than we are making,” Roget said.
He also said revenue in the energy sector has decreased.
“While LNG production remained the same, indigenous crude production, oil exports and refinery throughput have all fallen dramatically,” he said.
He added that the PP was the most corrupt government in the history of T&T and this was fuelling crime.
“There is a link between the corruption and crime. It has been proven time and again, that with the increase in corruption and white-collar crime, there is always a corresponding increase in violent crimes and murders.” (Guardian)