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Remy: Fitun holds no brief for PNM
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions (Fitun) will today join the Opposition and the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) in a march through Port-of-Spain, but its president Joseph Remy is insisting the union is not aligned with the PNM and does not intend to be.
Remy called a press conference yesterday at the Port-of-Spain office of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which he also heads, chiefly to dispel the notion that Fitun was pro-PNM. “We have felt the brunt of the PNM’s anti-worker, anti-people policies...There’s no way this organisation will align itself with the PNM,” Remy said.
“This is about bad governance. “We must remind the national population that Fitun holds no brief for the PNM. In fact, member units of the federation played a central role in unseating the last PNM administration.”
Remy said groups comprising Fitun, including the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, the Estate Police Association, Fire Services Association, Prisons Officers Association, Wallerfield Farmers Association, the Arima Maxi Taxi Association, Disabled People’s International, the Artistes Coalition and the CWU, gave the umbrella body the sanction to be part of today’s march which begins at noon at Woodford Square, Port-of-Spain.
Activist group Fixin’ T&T also confirmed yesterday that the group will take part in the march. Remy said Fitun’s general council unanimously agreed last Wednesday night to join the “people’s march.” National Union of Government & Federated Workers president James Lambert, a government senator, and first vice-president of the National Trade Union Centre (Natuc), said his union would not participate in the march because political parties did not join with trade unions to demonstrate.
However, Vincent Cabrera, head of the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU), said many units of Natuc, including BIGWU, would join the march “despite Lambert’s backward position.” Remy yesterday outlined the reasons for Fitun’s participation in the march. They were the same ones the PNM, MSJ and other civil groups gave.
Fitun wants a new style of politics which moves away from the system of maximum leadership to maximum participation, and the removal of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and National Security Minister Jack Warner. Remy said Warner was speaking on every area of government and was like the de facto prime minister.
“It suggests he’s running the country...This is a very dangerous trend, given all the issues (FIFA) swirling around his head,” he said. The march, comprising the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), the PNM and MSJ and eight civil-society groups, has been likened to demonstrations held by the Summit of the People’s Organisation (SOPO) just before the bloody attempted overthrow of the National Alliance for Reconstruction government in 1990 by Jamaat al Muslimeen insurrectionists.
SOPO was an amalgamation of trade unions, civil and religious groups and was supported by the Jamaat, Anglican priest Canon Knolly Clarke, and late RC Archbishop Anthony Pantin. MSJ head David Abdulah, who gave up his senatorial portfolio earlier this year and pulled out of the coalition Government, was a prominent part of SOPO as well.
Social scientist and head of the Police Service Commission Prof Ramesh Deosaran and others, while giving evidence at the Commission of Inquiry into the coup attempt earlier this year, warned T&T was heading for a similar, if not identical, July 1990. “I think the resentment still exists...I am issuing a warning to the authorities to take care it does not get out of hand,” he said.
“There is a growing resentment by the working class. There is an understream of issues that seem to pose a threat to the established order.” Ozzi Warwick, OWTU education and research officer said the JTUM applied for and was granted police permission for the march. “We applied on October 23 and got it on November 1 without any problems,” he said.
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