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Duke betrayed us—Roget
“Watson Duke and Errol Mc Leod are traitors to the labour movement. Tell them to go and spend their 30 pieces of silver.” So said president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget in response to comments that he was using the union to fulfil his political ambitions. Roget said he remained fiercely independent and had absolutely no interest in gaining political office.
“When the discussions were held as to who will run as MP for the Partnership and who will occupy State Boards, I immediately said I did not want any part of that. I said labour must be independent at all levels and I maintain that the OWTU is independent. We will criticize everybody as we see fit. If he (Mc Leod) vex too bad. I am not afraid of him, the cabal, the UNC, COP, Kamla or all of the above.”
He also threatened to expose Mc Leod, who had handed him the OWTU baton in 2008, after serving as president general for 26 years. “It is war because now I know for sure he has betrayed the labour movement. Tell him that there are things about him that he knows I know and there are things he doesn’t know I know. All will be revealed.” He said the OWTU would make an intervention to stop political victimisation of workers.
Asking Mc Leod to name the 75 collective agreements that he settled, Roget said, “Negotiations are outstanding at Petrotrin, T&TEC, Powergen and NP. TCL negotiations are before the court.” He added that while the Government had raised the minimum wage, it was not the $20 per hour rate that was promised. Roget also labelled Duke as a traitor who was in cahoots with the Government.
He said even though Duke was invited to the Joint Trade Union Movement meetings, he had been closely watched by his comrades. “We were careful not to disclose our strategies in front of him. He was sent by the UNC to undermine us and to find out strategies for labour. We have banished him in the same house as Mc Leod. They are unprincipled,” Roget said.
In an interview, Duke said he did not attend the Labour Day march because the general council of the Public Services Association (PSA) was not in agreement with the guidelines laid down by the JTUM. Asked to explain, Duke said he did not want to disclose specifics. He added that Roget was given the OWTU presidency, unlike he, Roget, who had to fight for his position.
“I never tried to destroy my master openly for political gain, so I don’t know who is the traitor. Roget knows what a traitor looks like and how a traitor moves.” He said the PSA did not want to come to Fyzabad for Labour Day because of ongoing issues with JTUM. “JTUM is not an officially recognised body because there is no constitution and there was never any elections. I am chairman of the general council and I don’t know that I want to be part of JTUM.
He said the PSA would fight its own battles. “We have our own flag and constitution. Our numbers are strong enough and militant enough to fight any battle. We do not welcome the infighting among trade unions. We are asking Roget to stop causing fight among the labour leaders and lend yourself to positive developments.” He said it was time to come together to re-examine the workers’ agenda rather than trying to undermine each other with “ole talk.”