Unions warn of rising unemployment in T&T

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The trade union movement recently launched its Labour Day 2019 activities amidst concerns of rising unemployment and attempts to “decimate” trade unions.

President of the umbrella Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), Ancel Roget, told the ceremony that an unprecedented number of workers had been placed on the breadline over the past few years.

“(They) have been displaced from their jobs. Families decimated. And (because of) the suffering to the people of T&T and working people and the attempt to decimate trade unions (and) the anti-trade union approach to wipe trade unions off the map of Trinidad and Tobago, it is significant that we have a concise launch and execute a massive Labour Day June 2019,” Roget said.

Roget, who also heads the powerful Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU), said that the rally, scheduled for June 16, Labour Day here, will provide trade unionists with the platform to communicate the pain and the suffering of the working class who “are today without a job and today without hope of a job”.

Labour Day 2019 will be observed under the theme “Unveiling the Truth: We Demand Justice For All,” and Roget said the JTUM would be dealing with what he termed “fake news and misrepresentations” of the facts which have been used by employers to retrench workers.

The trade unionist was critical of the role played by “the one per cent”, a reference to a certain section of the population involved in the local economy whose members he said were laughing at the workers all the way to the bank.

Meanwhile, Roget said the OWTU remains optimistic about its chances of taking over the operations of the state-owned oil refinery that the Government shut down earlier this year after indicating that it had been losing billions of dollars annually.

Last weekend, Finance Minister Colm Imbert told Parliament that the initial field of 70 companies vying to buy the refinery had been whittled down to 25 “serious” bidders.

Imbert said 45 companies had been removed from the list of bidders by way of a pre-qualification process and that the deadline for receiving bids is June 16.

Roget said that the union is bound by non-disclosure agreements on the issue, adding “suffice to say there is a process, and we are involved in it, and we feel confident about it”.

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