The Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) is accusing the government of attempting to block Labour Day celebrations through the Ministry of Works and Transport (MOWT).
JTUM leader Ancel Roget made the allegation during a pre-Labour Day media conference yesterday at the head office of the Banking and Insurance General Workers Union (BIGWU) in Barataria. According to Roget, the MOWT has started works directly in front of Charlie King Junction, Fyzabad, where JTUM’s stage will be erected.
“That could only come about by the vindictive nature of a Keith Rowley government. We have never seen that before. We didn’t see it with the government before that, and the one before that, and the one before that,” he said.
“But that and God face – they could dig a hole, they could dig a trench, they could jump in the trench – we will have our Labour Day celebrations. So, this Mr Minister of Works, all of those major equipment you intend to put in front of our stage in Fyzabad on June 19, think again.”
Celebrated annually on June 19, Labour Day marks the anniversary of the 1937 Butler Oilfield Riots. Butler’s protests demanded change for the average citizen’s working conditions. However, attempts to arrest him during the sit-down strike led to riots – 14 people were killed, 59 wounded and hundreds detained.
At last year’s Labour Day observances a motion of no confidence was symbolically passed against Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. This time around, Roget refused to let the cat out of the bag pertaining to plans for the event. Instead, he gave a breakdown of what Labour Day activities, held under the theme, People Power, People Matter, will entail.
He said two speeches will be delivered along with an infusion of cultural activities for the first time.
According to the JTUM leader, the topics will focus on the government, rising inequality, a failed energy sector – including the social, economic and environmental consequences of the closure of Petrotrin – the Paria inquiry, privatisation of T&TEC, NP, WASA, BIR, Customs, SWMCOL, TTPOST, PTSC, the Port of Port-of-Spain, Port of Scarborough, city and regional corporations, and lake asphalt.
Speakers will also discuss the so-called dismantling of collective agreements and the government’s failure to offer permanent employment to the public.
As is customary, the event will begin with a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler in Fyzabad and other notable leaders. Trade union members will then march from Avocat Junction to Charlie King Junction.
Iwer George and a slate of unnamed calypsonians will perform.
Also speaking at the conference was the leader of the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC), Michael Annisette, who lamented the issue of crime, agreeing with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley last week, that the education system is pushing young people toward criminality.
“Our educational system is breeding, is breeding a factor of criminals because our education system is not rooted in our realities and our history and our antecedent as a people,” he said.
Speaking with members of the business community at Breakfast with the Prime Minister at the Hilton Trinidad in Port-of-Spain on May 31, Dr Rowley blamed the secondary school system for churning out young, uneducated gang members. He also scolded parents, calling on them to be more responsible for their children.