The labour movement is now one.
The three local federations, the Joint Trade Union Movement led by Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) President, Ancil Roget, the National Trade Union Center led by Public Services Association (PSA) President, Watson Duke and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions by President Joseph Remy joined together as one accord to fight against the government.
The federations comprise all trade unions in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Our decision is clear, all the federations would agree with all the representatives that we are not going to participate any longer in any form, shape or fashion in National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) and I want the public to understand it’s with immediate effect. We can no longer continue in a society where we set up committees but the committee is for public relations purposes, for people to look good and the business of our people is put on the back burner,” said NATUC General Secretary, Michael Annisette.
The decision to unite came after Minister of Finance Colm Imbert told the Senate that National Insurance Board management has been called upon to explain why it did not inform NIB’s Board of a non-authorisation directive given by the Finance Ministry in March 2011 concerning a collective agreement.
He said if the wage increase contemplated by the agreement was in the public sector, it would cost $7 billion and cause tremendous expense for taxpayers.
This has angered labour leaders, with the PSA leader accusing the Finance Minister of provoking workers.
But yesterday Annisette hailed the united stance as a historic day.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank every one of you for showing the wisdom for putting Trinidad and Tobago first and forgetting all of our egos and our differences and coming together in a united front to save Trinidad and Tobago from a certain group of people who believe that it was only they must benefit in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
The new federation was formed this week after a high powered meeting among labour leaders.
JTUM Chairman Roget said the united force was ready to defend workers.
“They have communicated clearly to us in the trade union movement that the storm of attack that they are bringing to the people of Trinidad and Tobago by their decisions, the heartache, the pain they are bringing to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, they have had us recognise the only way to deal with that is not by individual trade unions or individual federations, but by coming together. So for that, we thank them this morning for bringing us to deal with the raging storm,” he said.
The NATUC leader Duke added that the federation is expected to start consultation on Friday but said it is ready.
“They try earnestly to make us look incompetent and impotent but today is a day for unification, today is a day is when the hatchet is not just buried it is destroyed and we have turned the metal and burned the metal into swords and shields that we would use to defend and fight for the working class.”