Trinidad and Tobago News
Caribbean Links

Ras Tyehimba  
Susan Edwards  
Dr. K Nantambu  
Winford James  
Dr. S Cudjoe  
Raffique Shah  
Terry Joseph  
Bukka Rennie  
Denis Solomon  
Stephen Kangal  
Corey Gilkes  
A.S. Leslie  
Shelagh Simmons  
Guest Writers  

Trinbago Pan  
Nubian School  
Africa Speaks  
Rasta Times  
US Crusade  

Re: Government trying to undermine Labour Day rally
Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

THE EDITOR: I am responding to Fitun's response that the Government tried to undermine Labour Day Rally (June 17, 2009). By alluding that the government organized sports and other events in its attempt to sabotage the Labor Day celebrations, Fitun is trying to shift the blame for its inability to mobilize large sections of the organized labour movement, the unorganized labour movement and the unemployed.

Why is this so?

When David Abdulah was one of the principal leaders of the Committee for Labour Solidarity preparatory (CLS), he had at his command a number of activists from various trade unions who were from the CPTU and the Labour Congress and who had the ability to organize and influence large sections of the organized labour movement. With the break up of Motion (CLS' successor organization), these activists are no longer around and, if around, are wary of David Abdulah's politics.

Moreover, Jimmy Singh, Man Man Edwards and others played an integral role in organizing the unemployed who ten to fifteen years ago would have gone to Fyzabad in their numbers.

In addition, in the CLS there were a number of community activists who mobilized people around various community interests and brought these people to Labour Day. Today, this is almost history. Whole communities are under siege and the community activists have quit, migrated abroad or have devoted their time to their families. Does Fitun have a programme of action to "Bring Back the Spirit in the Communities"?

Furthermore, the Council of Progressive Trade Unions played an important role in mobilizing workers across trade union and party lines and influenced workers to attend the celebrations. Even though the CPTU and the Labor Congress were always at loggerheads, they both sunk their differences for the sake of presenting a united front for that day and worked to achieve labour unity. Why can't Fitun and NATUC find a common platform, forget the rhetoric and seek the interest of the working-people? Fitun does not possess this capability and is still caught up in sectarian politics. Or in this case, what "head are they really pushing"?

More importantly, one of the reasons the OWTU was very successful over the years was because it had the ability to lead the working people. During the 1990s, the organization lost its way and needs to get back to its core. Its core was basing its strategy and tactics on the COSSABO (Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch Officers). These men and women emerged not only from the OWTU but from other unions as well. This was the secondary leadership who mobilized their branches and sections and brought out their workers. This august body has vanished.

Finally, the former CLS activists were also able to influence PNM supporters, ULF supporters, NAR supporters and others to come to Fyzabad. Somehow, despite their politics, these people wanted to hear what the Labour movement said about fundamental issues that affected their everyday lives. Can Fitun mobilize these constituencies and build a larger movement?

In the final analysis, blame for the poor showing at 2009 Fyzabad rally falls squarely at Fitun's door and it is time to stop blaming others for its inability to influence large sections of the employed, under-employed and unemployed and seek ways to unite with NATUC and other serious minded trade unions and begin to seriously address the socio-economic issues that are presently weighing down workers and entire communities.

Godfrey Vincent

Email page Send page by E-Mail