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Mc Leod: My track record speaks for me
Labour Minister Errol McLeod says he is yet to determine what influence the labour movement would have had on the establishment of the People’s Partnership Government in 2010, and he went to the PP on his track record of 37 years’ service. “I went to those elections not so much with a labour movement behind me, as it was the record of my work for 37 years as a trade unionist,” McLeod said. The PP was established in April 2010 after the signing of the Fyzabad Accord, involving the TOP, COP, UNC, MSJ and NJAC.
This was the latest development in the ongoing war of words between McLeod and the leadership of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU). It was made in the wake of his initial criticism of the leadership of the union by his successor Ancel Roget during a rally of the PP last Saturday. McLeod said he was in no fight with anyone, but was critical of Roget’s leadership.
OWTU general secretary and MSJ leader David Abdulah said earlier this week that McLeod seemed to be having difficulty over the roles of the labour movement and politics. On Wednesday, Abdulah denied McLeod’s claim that he was forced to make that comment. “Nobody forced me to say anything. Instead of suggesting that, he (McLeod) should address what I said. What I said is factual and cannot be refuted,” Abdulah told the T&T Guardian.
McLeod insisted on Thursday that Abdulah said “what he was made to say,” adding that a week before the MSJ left the partnership, Abdulah invited him to a meeting with Roget to dissuade the OWTU president general from leaving the Government. “You are the leader of the MSJ. He did not want to leave the PP, I am sure of it,” McLeod said.
Saying he was not interested in a fight with anyone in his former union, McLeod said his criticism was just that, a criticism, and was made “in the interest of making the organisation more responsive to today’s demands. I stand by that comment. That was no attack on the labour movement.” He said the labour movement has never had it as good as it does under the Kamla Persad-Bissessar-led Government, as the majority of collective agreements have been settled.
But he also said he was not surprised by yesterday’s protest outside his office and expected more such demonstrations. He insisted, “Nobody will have me engage in any brutish activity. Nobody would succeed “in reversing a record that has been very well established,” he said of his own track record. “I don’t think anybody is going to succeed at blemishing that record.”
He said in 2008 he resigned from the union and no one pushed him out, but rather he resigned then because he did not want to equal the 25-year record of George Weekes as leader of the union. McLeod led the OWTU for 21 years.