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Labour movement united in protest

Friday, July 8, 2011
PM gets Workers’ Accord today…
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Hundreds of workers are expected to assemble outside the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair this morning to deliver the Workers’ Accord. The accord was signed in Fyzabad on Labour Day, signalling the labour movement’s rejection of a five per cent wage proposal for public sector employees. In a telephone interview yesterday, president of the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget said today’s demonstration was an attempt “resolve the wage impasse” over the five per cent offer. Roget said all trade unions would be uniting for today’s protest, minus the Public Services Association (PSA) which accepted the five per cent increase for public servants in March. He said despite any “misgivings or conflicts in the past,” all trade unions were united on the issue of the five per cent wage offer.

Roget said there would be no division between the National Trade Union Centre of T&T (Natuc) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non-Governmental Organisations (Fitun). He said should the Prime Minister fail to recognise the Workers’ Accord, the labour movement would be “moving towards a general strike.” On Monday, at a press conference held at the Communication Workers Trade Union (CWU), Henry Street, trade unions warned that a general strike would come like “a thief in the night.”

Roget said the issue of the five per cent had gone “beyond cursory repair” and the Government was now on a “collision course” with the labour movement. Roget said the Workers’ Accord warned of a series of protest activities if the five per cent offer was not withdrawn. The trade unions are expected to gather at 9 am this morning at King George V Park, St Clair, then march to the nearby Prime Minister’s Office to deliver the accord.

Unions expected to take part in today’s demonstration are:

• Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union;

• Bank, Insurance and General Workers’ Union;

• Communications Workers’ Union 

• National Union of Government and Federated Workers;

• Seamen and Waterfront Workers Union; 

• Fire Services Association;

• Police Social and Welfare Association;

• T&T Postal Workers’ Union; 

• Amalgamated Workers’ Union;

• Contractors and General Workers Trade Union; and

• The National All Workers Union.