BY ANIKA GUMBS-SANDIFORD
Tensions rose when the two trade union umbrella bodies—Federation of Independent Trade Unions (Fitun) and National Trade Union Centre (Natuc)—crossed paths during Labour Day celebrations in Fyzabad yesterday.
Natuc speakers were forced to cut short their addresses on three occasions when Fitun members marched through Avocat Junction, where the former was holding its rally.
The trade union movement split in 2002 and yesterday’s incident did not blemish celebrations which marked the 70th anniversary of the struggles of the labour movement.
A two-mile radius separated the two trade union bodies as thousands of workers gathered at the historic spot in Fyzabad for the day.
There was almost a confrontation when Fitun and Natuc met at Avocat Junction.
Words were exchanged and Natuc members shouted for Fitun to wait until they had finished their speeches.
Police had to escort the Fitun members to their destination at Charlie King Junction.
At the time of the first interruption, UNC senator Wade Mark was speaking on a Natuc platform.
Earlier in the morning, Fitun members were prevented from starting their march from Oropouche Junction since they did not receive police permission.
“We are not one,” a National Union of Government and Federated Workers Union member shouted yesterday during Labour Day celebrations in Fyzabad.
The division in the labour movement was evident.
During the rally, president general of the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers’ Union Rudy Indarsingh had to beg Natuc members to co-operate with police and avoid confrontation when Natuc and Fitun crossed paths.
And union members even turned on their leaders who asked for solidarity to be shown to the opposing umbrella group.
Natuc members were seemingly unable to control their emotions when Public Service Association (PSA) president Jennifer Baptiste-Primus went past Natuc’s platform.
Natuc members hurled insults at their president general Robert Guiseppi, who asked his members to give way to the “green machine,” referring to the PSA group.
©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited
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