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With one trade union already pulling out of today’s Labour Day march in Fyzabad, Labour and Micro Enterprises Minister Errol Mc Leod is reminding the People’s National Movement (PNM) that workers will not easily forget the suffering they endured under its regime. The PNM, led by Dr Keith Rowley, has said it will be joining workers in the symbolic march from Avocat Junction to Charlie King Junction today.
But yesterday, on the eve of the commemoration, Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke, who initially suggested his union would be part of the march, pulled out and says he will not participate. Yesterday Mc Leod, addressing the weekly post-Cabinet media briefing at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital, Chancery Lane, said he would not be participating either.
He scoffed at the PNM’s plan to walk with workers as he expressed confidence workers would have reservations about the PNM’s participation, given their experiences under the former PNM government. “I doubt very much they will very easily forget the trials and tribulations they would have undergone, to fully accommodate the PNM in their march tomorrow. I do not wish to say much more on that,” Mc Leod told reporters.
He said contrary to allegations against him and the People’s Partnership Government, he remained committed to the “workers’ agenda” and all manifesto promises made to the working class would be delivered. Mc Leod pointed to the number of achievements under his tenure as Labour Minister, including the settlement of the Petrotrin pension issue. That, he said, was one of the outstanding matters that remained on the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) agenda when he retired as president general of the union.
He said as minister he had addressed that issue, which affected seven classes of employees and former Shell employees and all areas listed under the Government’s 120-day plan were delivered. Mc Leod said work was still ongoing on the Industrial Relations Act and amendments to re-classify domestic employees, gardeners and chauffeurs as workers covered by it.
He reported on his attendance at the high-level United Nations meeting on poverty eradication through full employment held last month in New York. He said T&T came in for praise, was re-elected to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) governing body and would represent 15 Caricom countries.