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Guiseppi defends Tobago show of force

Published: 
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Robert Giuseppi, former NUGFW head.

Labour consultant Robert Giuseppi and a former president of the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) does not believe that NATUC’s Labour Day march in Tobago reflects a new split in the labour movement.

“I agree partially with comrade Watson Duke, in terms of bringing that labour energy to Tobago. The people of Tobago are working class people and it is important to bring that spirit of unity on Labour Day. It is important to show the employer class that whether it is Trinidad or Tobago, the working class is united,” he told Guardian Media yesterday.

On Monday, NATUC president, Michael Annisette told Guardian Media that people who accuse NATUC of causing disunity in the labour movement are only about “speculation and bacchanal.”

He defended their decision to go to Tobago for Labour Day.

Giuseppi said that he is not happy with the current state of the labour movement as trade unions seem to be unable to perform their basic functions.

“They seem to have lost the whole spirit of organising workers.

The trade unions seem unable to attract new members.

There is the decline in numbers in trade unions worldwide and in T&T. T&T only has about just over 20 per cent of the workforce that is unionised.”

He added that union leaders must point out the benefits of being in a union if they wish to attract new members.

“They must understand clearly the whole idea of this thing is about job and income security. If workers do not have that, they have nothing. They will be semi-slaves through their entire working lives,” he said.

Opposition MP Rudy Indarsingh, a former president of the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers’ Union and a Minister in the last People’s Partnership government told Guardian Media that it was a “good idea” that NATUC spent this year’s Labour Day in Tobago but at the same time unity in the labour movement is important.

“It is good to say that the labour movement is reaching out to different geographical areas of T&T. Historically, I have always said that the catalyst for the labour riots started in Central Trinidad in 1934 on the Esperanza Sugar Estate.

There are areas of resistance historically in this country, whether is it Esperanza, Charlie King Junction and even in Tobago. I do not know if the strategy of NATUC is to raise the consciousness of workers in Tobago,” he said.\

He added: “I will always advocate for the unity of the labour movement to confront the ills and challenges that workers in the formal and informal economy face.”

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