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Trade unionists condemn Dr Tim
Trade unions have voiced their condemnation of Education Minister Tim Gopeesingh, after his instruction not to allow T&T Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) vice-president Orville Carrington to enter the ministry’s premises.
They also called on the minister to lift the ban and “allow good sense to prevail” so that parties could meet and discuss the matters plaguing the education system. On Wednesday, while going to meet with the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, TTUTA officials were told that directions had come from Gopeesingh to debar Carrington from entering the ministry at Hayes Street, St Clair.
A release from the ministry confirmed a “senior official” of TTUTA had been temporarily barred from entering the ministry after being accused of using inciting and abusive language to Gopeesingh and a junior employee at the Ministry of Education, in separate incidents in the past two months. Yesterday, the National Trade Union Centre (Natuc) in a letter from its general secretary Michael Annisette condemned the ban, saying what Gopeesingh attempted to do was deny the right to the free collective bargaining process and to determine for TTUTA who should be part of their delegation.
“The right to determine TTUTA’s delegation is a right to be determined wholly and solely by TTUTA and no one else,” Annisette wrote. “The right is enshrined in the ILO (International Labour Organisation) Conventions and is a fundamental principle which cannot be fettered, undermined or circumvented by the Government, Ministry of Education or any employer.”
Annisette described Gopeesingh’s actions as misdirected, ill-advised, misconceived and counterproductive.
“Arrogance, egos and personalities have no place in the collective bargaining process and social dialogue and therefore the concept of mutual respect and the right to meet and treat in good faith must be respected by all parties,” he said. He added that Gopeesingh’s “unwarranted stance” could be seen as an attack against the trade union movement and the working class in the Caribbean. Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union president Vincent Cabrera also condemned Gopeesingh’s move.
“We call on the Education Minister to climb down from his very high and arrogant horse and treat with the TTUTA representative,” said Cabrera. “We are aware that this minister on at least three occasions has publicly ridiculed and denigrated teachers and that Carrington was responding to an outburst by the minister, who has adopted an ancient and backward managerial style in dealing with teachers.” Cabrera said BIGWU was willing to organise trade union leaders to accompany TTUTA on its next visit to the ministry. Gopeesingh yesterday refused to comment on unions’ request for him to lift the ban on Carrington. “I have not received any requests in writing so I cannot comment at this time,” Gopeesingh said, adding that he had issued a comprehensive statement on the issue on Wednesday and was standing by that.
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