The T&T Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association and Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) are distancing themselves from a protest which blocked the northbound lane of the Solomon Hochoy Highway yesterday, stranding thousands in traffic for hours.
Shortly after the action, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley accused the trade unions and opposition of being conspirators.
“So they have made their move. Dump truckloads of sand and debris on both sides of the highway and block traffic! What a wonderful idea of leadership from Roget and the followers, including the UNC! The marauding gangs of metal thieves threatened to, but did not complete the job of shutting down the country, so the leaders are helping them to get that done,” he said on his Facebook page.
However, speaking at a press conference, JTUM representative Timothy Bailey distanced the union from the protest.
“Our position is very clear. We condemn those allegations made. What we have seen this morning is an emotional and reactive response by individuals who are hurting. We understand it as trade union leaders,” he said.
He also asked the Prime Minister to refrain from making such accusations.
“We would ask that the Honourable Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago take a responsible position. Not one that is emotional, not one that is reckless, not one that is reactive and not one that is irresponsible by basically including and tarnishing the name of the leader of the Joint Trade Union Movement of Trinidad and Tobago and the trade union movement,” he said.
TTSIDA president, Allan Ferguson also condemned the action and distanced his association from any involvement, noting it had undoubtedly added fuel to the already growing negative perception of the industry. He said he does not support any action to shut down the country nor would he join hands with any other aggrieved entities to do it, as the PM claimed.
“If the trade unions have they grouse against you, that’s them. Our thing is about the poor people, the workers, that’s our thing. I am not on no other thing but to try to get back our industry and to help poor people and to help workers. That is my thing. I am not on no foolishness Mr Prime Minister,” he said.
“When I organise anything, it have to be peaceful. I don’t have no evilness in my mind like other people. I have an industry to fight for.”
Ferguson said the TTSIDA will be organising another motorcade on Friday to peacefully protest the six-month ban on scrap iron exports.