No-confidence motions are historically a parliamentary tool used to call into question the failures, incompetence and loss of confidence in a Prime Minister, ministers or a government.
Traditionally, they bring little value except for the opposition to highlight those negative qualities and present an opportunity for the government to boast about their perceived achievements and to blast the opposition for wrongdoing and failures in the Parliament.
No-confidence motions do not have a chance of succeeding within the ‘hallowed’ walls of Parliament where elected MPs gather to conduct what they like to boast of as ‘the people’s business’.
Knowing that little value is placed on such motions in the Parliament, it was no surprise then that members of the trade union movement on Sunday converted the Charlie King Junction, the home of labour, into a ‘Workers’ Parliament’ to move their own motion of no-confidence in Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his Government. Workers voted a resounding ‘Yes’ when the question was put by OWTU president-general Ancel Roget as to whether they had lost confidence in the Government.
Their reasons were many.
“He’s sending workers home, prices of food, goods and services are going up every day, you have no money to send your children to school, you are facing increased utility rates, you have rent, mortgage, bank loan, hire purchase and instalments to pay. All of this coming after a pandemic with no wage increase and now property tax. How heartless can these people be? They are speaking with forked tongues, from both sides of their mouths,” Roget declared to the cheers of the hundreds of workers gathered.
The workers’ motion will be delivered to President Paula-Mae Weekes and to the Parliament on Friday.
“We not making joke!” Roget said.
Mr Roget and his team must know little will change when the motion is delivered. But they are acting on behalf of thousands of voiceless citizens.
One can only hope that the Prime Minister, who has been out of the country for some time, will recognise that the discontent of the working class is a snapshot of how the wider population struggling to make ends meet feels at present.
Dr Rowley may well want to accuse the trade union movement of aligning politically with the opposition against his Government, but the stark reality is that thousands of people in this twin-island republic are suffering.
The Government has many internal issues to fix itself, including questions surrounding Attorney General Reginald Armour and Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings, food shortages, rising food prices, escalating crime, poverty, abuse in children’s homes and unemployment.
One would hope, therefore, that Dr Rowley, who has been silent on the AG issue and given Cummings continued support, will be cognisant of the fact that people are at boiling point and only he can address the population’s concerns.
Dr Rowley must recognise by now that silence is no longer an option and must also understand that people are tired of his narrative of blaming the opposition for everything. He has been the Prime Minister of T&T for seven years and his Government must take responsibility for some of what citizens are facing. He must, therefore, be honest with the population. To do otherwise is an insult to all right-thinking people.