President of the Banking Insurance and General Workers' Union (BIGWU), Vincent Cabrera is expecting a massive turnout at today's annual Labour Day celebrations in Fyzabad. Today the labour movement marks its 75th anniversary and he said it was a "very exciting time." Cabrera, speaking with the T&T Guardian yesterday, said there had been a "renewed interest" in labour and with that he expected more people to attend today's match to Fyzabad. The excitement ahead of today's celebration is also fuelled by the Movement for Social Justice's withdrawal on Sunday from the People's Partnership Government. MSJ leader David Abdulah also signalled his intention to resign from the Senate. Yesterday Abdulah said he e-mailed a formal resignation letter to Persad-Bissessar on Sunday afternoon. However, he said, he did not receive an acknowledgement from the PM, except for her media release, which was issued Sunday evening.
Today's celebrations will be set against the backdrop of the MSJ's decision which was not totally unexpected. Cabrera, who is also chairman of the MSJ, declined to comment on Abdulah's resignation since, he said, he wanted to keep labour separate from the MSJ issue. "The resignation would have caused more interest so there will be a greater turnout (today). We can see both within the union and outside the union a renewed interest in what is taking place within the labour movement," he said.
The BIGWU leader said the union intended to make its voice heard at the celebrations. Cabrera is scheduled to speak on today's platform together with Wayne Kublalsingh, of the Highway Re-Route Movement, Shiraz Khan, of the Trinidad Unified Farmers' Association, as well as feature speaker Oilfields' Workers' Trade Union (OWTU)p resident general Ancel Roget. He said BIGWU would bring to the public's attention a number of developments within the finance sector which was adversely affecting the sector and workers. "We will also show the public that the Government, instead of protecting the rights of the people, are taking away the rights of the people," he added.
Today's celebration will begin at 5 am with the Butler Classic 5K Road Race, 20K Run and 20K Walk which starts at OWTU Paramount Building, Circular Road, San Fernando, and ends at Charlie King Junction, Fyzabad. A new bust of Uriah "Buzz" Butler will be unveiled as the trade union members pay homage to the OWTU founder at the Fyzabad Public Cemetery. The march, which leaves Avocat Junction for Charlie King Junction, is expected to begin between 9:30 am and 10 am. This year's celebrations will also feature a re-enactment of the events of June 19, 1937, including Butler's speech, singing and burning of effigy of Charlie King. The re-enactment was produced by Arts-in-Action in collaboration with Tony Hall. The day will end on a cultural note with performances from 3 Canal, Brother Resistance, Brother Valentino, Singing Sandra and Black Stalin.