Trade Unions from across the country yesterday requested a meeting with the government to discuss the way forward for the working class.
The call was made at a virtual rally during which members of Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN) and National Trade Union Centre of Trinidad and Tobago (NATUC) congregated to discuss issues affecting workers such as wage negotiations, privatisation, utilities and public services.
“We are talking about sitting down, having a convo and work out a mechanism, anything less than that is disrespect,” president of JTUM Ancel Roget said.
Roget, the chair of the meeting, revealed that if their request is not met like times in the past then they will act accordingly, but he refused to reveal how.
“The effectiveness of a plan is the element of surprise, we will regroup and we would put together a cogent plan, “he said.
Roget said employees are owed in some instance four periods of collective bargaining and they have requested a meeting with the minister of finance Colm Imbert three times but got no responses.
“If people do not want to listen well it’s not my…I am not at liberty this morning to announce what will happen but rest assured through our deliberation and planning something has to happen to break this deadlock and have those in authority pay the respect to all of the workers and all of the trade unions in this country,” he said.
Another issue raised at the three-hour-long virtual rally themed ‘Unite to Fight’ was, according to the unionists, that employers were using the pandemic to engage in mass retrenchment and take advantage of workers, something they said they will not allow to continue.
“COVID or no COVID, their agenda continues so we must not stop. Those who stand against what we represent are using this time to do what they wanted for quite a while,” Roget said.
He said these issues started long before COVID-19 and if Government took their advice in the past this country’s economic situation would not be where it is today.
“There is absolutely no respect for those playing a major part for those turning the wheels of the economy,” Roget said.
NATUC president Watson Duke called for more meetings like today’s rally, while president General of All Trinidad General Worker’s Trade Union Nirvan Maharaj said its time to unite.
“With one voice and one shout, no retreat and no surrender,” president of the Contractors and General Workers Trade Union said.
TTUTA president Antonia Tekah De Freitas s promised teachers that they will work to rectify all outstanding issues as she plans to approach this year as a union leader with, “smoke in the front and fire behind.”
From 9 am today the unions will participate in a motorcade from San Fernando to Port-of-Spain.
“We are alive and we are here and you know what we are relevant,” he said.