Labour Movement Versus PP Gov’t

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
January 17, 2011

PSA ProtestYear 2011 has witnessed the continued acerbic relationship between the membership of the labour movement and the seven-month old People’s Partnership (PP) government.

The powers that be in these unions/associations need to realize and understand very clearly that the mammoth, outstanding sums of money owed to them are the irresponsible, anti-labour legacy of the former PNM government under Patrick Manning.

This mess has now been inherited by the PP government. Union/association leaders need to come to grips with the reality that this seven-year mess cannot be wiped out within less than seven months. This should not be their expectations. Life just does not work that way. The “instant gratification” mode of union/association leaders needs to be shelved/tempered.

Union/association leaders need to let the financial nature of these times run its course . “Rush to judgement” is not the solution but it may just end up being the problem.

Yes, the membership of the PSA and TTUTA voted for the PP government; yes, the membership of the construction industry also voted for the PP government. And the leadership of the PP government is more than grateful for all these votes.

However, a reality check is a sine qua non in these current global financial/economic times.

The leadership of unions/associations should reflect on the vicious and venomous treatment they received at the hands of the PNM government’s Public Sector Negotiating Committee (PSNC) under Dr. Lenny Saith in the Office of Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

The leadership of unions/associations also need to recall that the former PNM government sought to de-certify certain unions.

The leadership of unions/associations should realize that unlike the obdurate anti-labour posture of the former PNM government, the PP government under Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is more than willing to work with them in order to arrive at an acceptable, reasonable and liveable wage structure.

In this regard, membership of the labour movement need to be very cognizant of the economic reality that for seven years the PNM government obdurately refused to install a minimum wage for workers in T&T; however, within less than seven months in office, the PP government has legalized a $12.50 minimum wage.

This represents people’s democracy under the PP government; the converse was true under the former PNM government led by Patrick Manning.

Indeed, instead of marching in front of the Prime Minister’s office, these union/associations’ leaders should be marching in front of the Office of the Leader of the opposition, Dr. Keith Rowley. He was part of the PNM government that imposed/inflicted this harsh/inhumane suffering on their membership, not the PP government.

Moreover, instead of blasting the Minister of Finance, Winston Dookeran, these union/associations’ leaders and CLICO’s policy holders, should also be blasting the former Minister of Finance, Karen Nunez-Tesheira and the Governor of the Central Bank, Ewart Williams. These leaders need to remember that Mrs. Tesheira got her millions up front before the CLICO fiasco/disaster.

These leaders are aiming their guns at the wrong targets.

On the other hand, it is totally ridiculous and ironic, albeit laughable, for the Opposition Business Leader in the Senate, Pennelope Beckles-Robinsion, to infer that failure of the PP government to settle wage issues with the PSA “throws everything out of whack?”

As such, the immediate question that comes to the fore is: Why didn’t Mrs. Beckles-Robinson have the nerve and fortitude to warn then Prime Minister Patrick Manning of this impending national calamity as she saw it?

Every one already knows the answer, including Mrs. Beckles-Robinson.

Similarly, it is supremely disingenuous, mischievous and malicious for Michael Annisette, President of Natuc and former board member of UdeCott to publicly suggest that the PP government should offer public servants “at least a 14 per cent wage increase in light of the increased inflation rate.”

Again, would Mr. Annisette have dared to make such a public suggestion to then PNM Prime Minister Patrick Manning?

Every one already knows the answer, including Mr. Annisette.

The stark reality is that the leadership of all trade unions and associations in T&T needs to back off for a while. They need to give the teething PP government breeding space in which to operate for the benefit of We the People. The former PNM government’s malfeasance and intransigence are too ghastly to contemplate. The PP government needs more time to work things out.

Indeed, there is absolutely no doubt in this writer’s mind that the PP government will be true to its successful campaign manifesto promises.

Every citizen who rightly deserves to get money will get it; contractors will also get their long-outstanding just payment, CLICO policy holders will also be compensated— all in due time.

However, everyone knows how long it took to build Rome.

In the final analysis, leadership in trade unions/associations need to be cognizant of the Biblical truism that although “Joy cometh in the morning”; however, it cannot and will not come in tomorrow’s morning in T&T. Ergo, leadership in unions/associations needs to give the PP government time to put T&T on the right financial/economic path. Indeed, joy may cometh for some CLICO policy holders before carnival.

Now is not the time to threaten to shut the country down for something the PP government is not the culprit in its making. On the contrary, now is the crucial time for all parties to come together in tandem in order to lift the country up.

Now is not the time to engage in reckless behaviour that endangers every one. Now is not the time to threaten the PP government with law suits. Now is not the time for divisiveness; on the contrary, now is the time to right the wrong left by the anti-labour and anti-people PNM government.

Leaders of unions/associations must “keep hope alive” and be re-assured that their duly-elected PP government under the able and pro-people leadership of Prime Minister Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar will “do the right thing” not only in their interest but also in the country’s interest and well-being.

Truth Be Told: For while it may be good brinkmanship for the Public Service Association’s President, Watson Duke to publicly threaten the PP government with “weapons of mass destruction” and for Natuc’s President Michael Annisette to launch the “White Friday” protest on 28 January 2011, they should hope that by their actions “the chickens (do not) come home to roost.”

Shem Hotep (” I go in peace”).

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies.

6 Responses to “Labour Movement Versus PP Gov’t”


  • Duke and Annisette are PNM operatives who were prepared to accept the neglect of their Unions by the PNM. They have suddenly found the courage which they lacked under the PNM, to make irresponsible demands of the PP. They should accept the results of the last election and act responsibly.There are many amongst us who silently tolerated PNM abuse,but now ,politically motivated, they are bringing out their “weapons of mass destruction”.
    The memberships should defy these biased and angry losers for the betterment of the country.

  • Hey Doc as Uncle Powell once warned idiot GW, in his rush to garner revenge for Papa GH re overthrowing the Islamist fool Sadam , ” if you break it you own it.”Tell cousin T-Man and similar pro tribal supporters , that this is what politics is all about. The respective Trade unions ,lived up to their end of the bargain , by telling their supporters to vote en mass for the PP crew, and now looks on in horror ,as they see Uncle Dookie de moneymaker,doing the Yoga dance, as it were, to find allegedly , non existent funds ,to compensate Sugar and rice, paddy Caroni workers, and dey are mad as hell ,and so justifiably or not won’t take it anymore.
    Tell you what Doc, there are two types of people I find most revolting , and would not mind if we can confiscate their passport and band them from our country forever. The first are non patriotic country haters, and the second or worst , are the national ungrateful.
    Ain’t it sad that the ULF, Club 88, and UNC as part of the coalition labor movement core of our country-via their lifetime closet socialist unmentionable leaders-rode the backs of desperate Indo Trini workers for decades, and now that they’ve achieved political power , are will to throw the same Trade Unions under the bus in this convenient PP marriage?
    You keep being prudent and protect you lil Cipriani Labour College enclave , for as you obviously remembered , “when you neighbor house on fire, light yours, or is it wet?
    Keep an eye on that other Medical Doctor turn Minister of Education, as he along with PP Spokesman in Chief T- Man ,still firmly believes , I am certain ,the blatant lies and misinformation about genocide in T&T, committed by the folks of Mandingo/ Hausa, Yauraba, Massai , and Fulani nation, hummm?
    Keep dem honest Doc!

  • Truth Be Told: For while it may be good brinkmanship for the Public Service Association’s President, Watson Duke to publicly threaten the PP government with “weapons of mass destruction” and for Natuc’s President Michael Annisette to launch the “White Friday” protest on 28 January 2011, they should hope that by their actions “the chickens (do not) come home to roost.”

    Intelligent comment here. People who go around playing the bully is putting an unnecessary target on the back. In Labour negotiations, if you cannot come to a workable compromise then it can be said you should not be doing the job of negotiating in the first place. A negotiator must be prepared to walk at some point in time. Duke has demonstrated his lack of negotiating skills by using all kinds of mischievous language. Such tactic does not work. You go in high and meet at the middle ground. Then wait another 36 months to go at it again. The question I have for labour leaders is this. In any economic downturn the you keep demanding more. This places the government in an untenable position. I am sure Duke days are number in all of, because there are other big time plays who are watching his position and at the appropriate time they will make their move.

  • Hey khem ,repeat after me , then remind de top dogs in your government of the following for me if you will : – ‘De people shall not be bamboozled!’

    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/SIA_SHOCKER-114336594.html

    So let me see ,we have here a 31-year-old suspect educated Reshmi Usha Ramnarine, serving now as security chiefs in a premier national security organization , having as her deputy 33 year old, alleged intelligence expert Trevor Ganpat,both with questionable credentials mind you.
    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Conflicting_reports_on_Reshmi_s_qualifications-114403004.html
    Then to compound the problem , we have a Canadian that’s making more money in salary per year , than the past 10 Trinidad and Tobago Commissioners all put together , and we have this Khem, a neo tribal mouth piece of ‘de square peg in round hole regime,’ he and others so adore , lecturing to us about labour rights history, and struggles of oppressed folks.
    In the mean time it’s a field day on our hardworking policemen active ,and retired as Superintendent Nedd was murdered a few weeks ago allegedly for his car, and as late as yesterday, a former ACP Carrington , for a few pittance ,at his place of business.
    That’s it , time to call in the global Human Rights bodies , just like was done by the former anti genocidal head gurus led by Dr Goopiesing , Ramesh aka Panday criminal lawyer, and former top discrimination lawyer , Guardian columnist ,and now PP pit bull, in AG Rammy, the ambitious COP fractional political force?
    What a sick joke, if dis is change we must believe in !

  • Dr. Nantambu’s article reflects a deep & informed analysis of the current state of the nation. Can we expect such reality assessments from the likes of the executives of NATUC & the PSA? Can they remember how they dared not ‘buck’ the status quo before May 24th 2010? Do they & others of their mindsets really care about the country’s future?

  • Doesn’t history repeat itself? What happened in World Cup 86 and 98 between Brazil and France? what happened when “duncy” George, offered Public Servants 6%, they refused; and lost out 10% when NAR came into office. People, wake up and smell d coffee!!!!

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