Member of Parliament for Couva South Rudranath Indarsingh is condemning the CPO’s offer of 0%, 0%, 0% to the Public Services Association (PSA) which he says seems to be the order of the day anytime the PNM is in power.
He is also critical of the silence of the Leadership of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) on the CPO’s offer which he deems as the height of hypocrisy and demonstrates quite clearly that they are again willing to say one thing and do another whenever the PNM is in office.
Indarsingh maintains that the Keith Rowley-led PNM Administration and Government is continuing their trend of contempt and disrespect for the labour movement.
The Couva South MP and former President of a major Trade Union said the workers of the country must never forget that during the last Manning-led PNM Administration, the offer to public servants was the same 0%, 0%, 0% at a time when there was an economy boom, when oil was US$147 per barrel and natural gas was US$9 MMBtu.
Indarsingh said that when the People’s Partnership Government came into office in May 2010, there were over 135 negotiations/collective agreements which were not settled.
When the first round of negotiations were settled at 5%, the then Prime Minister and her Government were berated and ridiculed for approving a 5% cap and the very same Trade Union Leaders who are silent today were very vociferous in their criticisms of that Administration’s perceived interference in the free and fair collective bargaining process.
Opposition Leader now Prime Minister Keith Rowley was always present alongside OWTU’s President Ancil Roget both leading protests and demonstrations against the Persad-Bissessar led Administration and made it their priority of threatening the peace and stability of the lives of citizens of Trinidad & Tobago. On several occasions, they even took their protests to the Prime Minister’s Official Residence as well as to Persad-Bissessar’s private family-home in South Trinidad.
Indarsingh, former Minister of State in the Ministries of Labour and Finance, said the CPO’s offer was not realistic against rising inflation, fixed salaries and sustained taxation, against a dollar which continues to depreciate, against three increases in the price of gas and gas, against a 7% online tax and the pending implementation of the dreaded property tax (retroactively) which carries a $5,000 fine for failing to submit valuation form.
He slammed Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West for her flippant comments in the Senate during the property tax debate that if people could fork out $10K for carnival costumes and $1500 all-inclusive fetes, they can deal with the property tax. West’s comments show the continued disconnect of the Rowley-led Administration on the issues affecting citizens – the workers, pensioners, the thousands who have been retrenched since September 2015, those barely surviving on minimum wage and those forced into squatting.
Indarsingh is calling the CPO’s offer to the PSA a deliberate effort to undermine the independence of the free and fair collective bargaining process established under the Industrial Relations Act.
He is further calling on PM Rowley, Finance Minister Colm Imbert, Public Administration Minister Marlene McDonald (who the CPO reports to) and former PSA President now Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus to clarify whether the CPO is acting on their instructions to make this offer to the PSA.
Indarsingh cited recent statements by Finance Minister Imbert that the country is seeing early signs of an economic recovery and by Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General Fitzgerald Hinds that the Rowley-led PNM Administration has stabilized the economy which suggest that with the overall increase in the price of oil above the budgeted prices, the offer of 0%, 0%, 0% is inadequate and unrealistic.