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As Finance Minister Larry Howai prepares to deliver his budget today, head of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) Ancel Roget is sounding a warning that any attempt to privatise state assets will be met with opposition. In a statement yesterday, Roget said this position was agreed upon during JTUM’s National Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch Officers (Cossabo) held at OWTU’s headquarters at Paramount Building, San Fernando. More than 300 branch officers, shop stewards and activists from various trade unions participated in the national Cossabo which focused on the issue of privatisation and its implication for workers. Roget said evidence shows throughout the world privatisation has led not only to the drop in service of the enterprises but a decline in the social and economic fortunes of the citizens where these programmes have been implemented. “The public-private partnership arrangement is nothing new and also is not supported by JTUM,” he said. “The JTUM calls on the Government and the Minister of Finance to back away from any further introduction of any form of privatisation in this year’s national budget.” “The JTUM condemns privatisation in all its forms. We will not accept the further divestment of any state enterprise. JTUM recognises privatisation as a means of transferring wealth and ownership from the public sector to private and individual interest.”
Roget said JTUM was against many of the various measures of privatisation such as commercialisation, public private partnership, direct selling of assets, deregulation, divestment, contracting out of jobs, management contracts, joint ventures and engaging in strategic partnerships. “We recognise that contract labour is a creature of privatisation and has already impacted adversely on the job security of thousands of workers,” he said. “In fact it is another form of exploitation of the workers by reducing their benefits and even losing their jobs.” He noted that control over the policy and direction of the state enterprises must remain in the hands of the people. “These state enterprises do not belong to the UNC, the partnership, Minister Larry Howai or even the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for them to sell off to their friends, family and financiers,” Roget said. “Every citizen has a stake in the state enterprises, so the JTUM insists that these enterprises be provided with the resources to ensure that they operate at the highest level of efficiency for all of the people of T&T. “If there is any threat of privatisation of the Public Service, TSTT, Plipdeco, T&TEC, Petrotrin, NP, MTS, finance sector institutions such as TTMF, Exim Bank and First Citizens, the JTUM will mount a formidable response against any attempt to further privatise any state enterprise. “JTUM is also seeking to have the nationalisaton of specific strategic industries which have been already handed over to the private sector. JTUM condemns the extremely anti-worker attitude of Acelor Mittal, a company which has been handed a prize national asset.”