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Roget: All is not well in T&T
The Government can face embarrassment if the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) succeeds in its efforts to draw international attention to social and labour unrest in T&T at its “Mother of all Marches” in Port-of-Spain next month. Unionists walked through the streets of San Fernando on Thursday seeking support for the May 23 demonstration in protest of controversies in the energy, health and labour sectors. Yesterday they distributed flyers in Arima sensitising people about the planned public demonstration.
President general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget accused Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of misrepresenting the political and industrial relations climate. He said she was making foreign investors believe that the country was running smoothly when it was not. Giving the PP an ultimatum, he said if it could not reverse the problems it had created, it should call the general election now. He said 2015 would be too late as the country would have “plunged further into a precipice of destruction.”
He said, “Certainly this Government has a way of trying to portray that everything is okay in this country. When they go abroad, they speak as if everything is okay, but everything is everything but okay. Therefore, we want to communicate with the national, regional and international community, that all is not well in T&T.
“You cannot go country-hopping and say that you have a peaceful industrial relations climate. When you do that, you misrepresent what is happening at the level of T&T. Today, the citizens are not happy with the level of governance and we must convey that is a massive way.”
The unionists attracted a lot of attention as they met with taxi drivers, shoppers and vendors, who added to the unions’ list of complaints. Some even pledged to join the march along with religious organisations and political parties as they commented on the recent dismissals of former people and social development minister Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh and tourism minister Chandresh Sharma who resigned.
While Persad-Bissessar has been commended by some sectors for taking decisive action, Roget said the ministers’ removal had done nothing for the country. He said the next minister that should be fired is Energy and Energy Affairs Minister Kevin Ramnarine for his issues at Petrotrin.
“These two removals...does that improve the lives of people who cannot get transportation, who are stuck in traffic? Does it improve the quality of life in various communities who are starved for resources? Does that improve the quality of healthcare at our various hospitals? Does that stop the corruption that is taking place? “The answer is no and therefore we need to address head-on these issues.
“Unless we see the dismissal of the Minister of Energy, the dismissal of the top management of Petrotrin and their board of directors and similar enterprises, we will continue to speak out. We are not impressed with the dismissal of these two ministers. All of them must go and we must put the country back in a proper footing, where there is respect for citizens and workers in this country.” Leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah said he had predicted when his party left, the PP, the Government would crumble.
“The dismissal of ministers Ramadharsingh and Sharma are really manifestations of a deeper malaise within the Government. It is also endemic of corruption and it is for those reasons why we left the partnership. We knew when we left there would be many more examples of bad governance.” Abdulah said the Government was now stumbling and had lost the public’s confidence through improper leadership.