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Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says now is the time for new job creation and a return to economic stability and growth under the UNC.

She said as the term of the Government comes to an end, it will be remembered as one of the worst for this country’s working population. Under this administration, she said, more than 100,000 jobs have been lost, leaving families struggling to make ends meet.

In her Labour Day message, Persad-Bissessar said this year marked the 83rd anniversary of the founding of the modern Trade Union Movement in T&T and today, a sombre mood engulfs much of the working class.

Persad-Bissessar said during the period 2010 to 2015, the government she led settled 135 collective agreements and paid out over three billion to workers.

She said more than 56,000 jobs were created, and “we managed to keep the cost of living under five per cent within their reach. In addition, we ensured that our streets and communities were safe, and provided access to tertiary level education free of charge to all children. There was hope ringing in the atmosphere which focused on people-centred development and improving the quality of life and standard of living of all.”

The former prime minister said the change in Government in 2015 resulted in an overall deterioration in the quality of life of citizens of our twin-island Republic.

“Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley promised much to the Labour Movement through the signing off the Joint Memorandum of Understanding and their manifesto of 2015 “Let’s Do This Together”, however they failed to deliver on their promises,” she said.

He added: “The full consequences of the Rowley Government’s failure are yet to be felt, as workers brace for more job losses. The PNM administration’s reckless spending, economic mismanagement, and lack of a plan to restart the economy after COVID-19 are adding to the growing anxiety and uncertainty among the population.”

Persad-Bissessar said there is a sense of hopelessness among workers. She said the strength of the Trade Union Movement has been systematically weakened if not destroyed by this PNM regime. As a result, a large percentage of the working class exists on 2014 salaries, not covered by collective agreements, and therefore struggle from pay cheque to pay cheque on minimum wages, she said.

She saidas the country prepares to return to the polls, “I assure the citizenry that the party I lead, the United National Congress, has a plan to generate more than 50,000 new, sustainable jobs when we return to office, as outlined in our National Transformation Economic Plan 2020-2025.”

She added” We will ensure that workers in Trinidad and Tobago can work and live in a dignified manner, owning their own homes and raising their families in an environment of peace, safety and security. We shall lift workers out of the dependency syndrome. We will create the enabling climate that would allow Trade Unions to grow, flourish and develop and without hindrance carry out their historical role in protecting the rights and freedoms of the workers.