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Saturday, December 07, 2013
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All Trinidad Union still part of JTUM
Political analyst Dr Hamid Ghany in his commentary in the Sunday Guardian of July 14, captioned Political Divisions, either misled himself or took up a position based on incorrect premises. While his comments on political divisions within the UNC and the PNM may be valid, his contention as far as the JTUM is concerned is totally invalid. Yes, the All Trinidad Union did inform JTUM that it would not participate in the March for Justice, because of the PNM’s involvement.
However, I wish to inform Dr Ghany that his conclusion that that trade union had withdrawn from the JTUM is patently untrue. ATGWTU continues to be part of the JTUM. So again, Dr Ghany’s conclusion that the JTUM had lost ATGWTU from our ranks is totally not true. As such there is no split in the JTUM. Dr Ghany ascribed as the reason for the so-called loss of the All Trinidad union, the alleged JTUM embrace of the PNM.
I remember in the 1970s when the PNM, through its Attorney General Karl Hudson-Phillip, had proposed the legislation of the Public Order Act. In response, OWTU initiated “the Committee of 21” which included the DLP, the Chamber of Commerce, NJAC and many other civic organisations. Could anyone have seriously accused the OWTU of embracing the DLP? You see, those who have matured in their politics would know of the concept of broad front politics, where disparate groups combine for a common cause.
There is no commitment to continue that association when the matter at hand is withdrawn. After the government of the day withdrew the Public Order Act, the Committee of 21 was disbanded. Dr Ghany also trumped and followed suit as far as the unfounded contention of the Prime Minister is concerned, when she made a most unfortunate attempt to put a historical division between Uriah Butler and Cola Rienzi.
Let me say firstly, that as a boy, I visited OWTU’s headquarters where my father was an active branch officer and it was there that I saw portraits of Cola Rienzi, who was forced to change his name from Krishna Deonarine in order to be employed in the sugar factory at a pretty senior position by the colonial sugar employers who openly discriminated against sugar workers who were mainly Indo-Trinidadians.
The name Cola Rienzi was taken from a revolutionary Italian prince. At the main hall in BIGWU’s headquarters, a portrait of Cola Rienzi is prominently displayed. We do know our history and that is a history characterised by the coming together of Indo and Afro Trinidadians, to struggle against the British.
There were examples such as the Water Riots, the Hosea massacre and the Camboulay riots which were violently suppressed by the British military authorities. They feared the two major ethnic forces were uniting against the British. But Butler and Cipriani were not only trade union leaders. They were political leaders as well. Both comrades resigned from the Trinidad Labour Party (TLP) and formed their own political parties. Butler went on to win seats in the Legislative Council.
This lesson we have also learnt and so we engage in politics building our Labour Party, the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ). Like Butler and Rienzi we intend to provide a political vehicle which will carry out fundamental change, and provide the environment when people can realise the justice that nearly everyone is presently denied.
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