Labour Day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of the workers masses of our country and allows them to reflect on their current status, to celebrate their progress and to regroup and recommit to protecting their collective condition and improving their quality of life and standard of living.
Indarsingh said that for the past 2½ years, the Keith Rowley-led PNM Administration has been the most incompetent and anti-worker/anti-Labour Administration that Trinidad and Tobago has had to endure post- Independence. The working class has been burdened with the highest level of joblessness in several years, increased cost of living, declining purchasing power of their earnings and a Government which has punished the poor and vulnerable through sustained taxation.
Labour icons such as the late Adrian ‘Cola’ Rienzi, the late Uriah ‘Buzz’ Bulter, the late Bhadase Sagan Maraj, the late George Weekes, the late Kenrick Rennie, the late Carl Tull, the late Francis Mungaroo, the late Nathaniel Crichlow, the late Boysie Moore Jones, the late Clotil Walcott and the late Elma Francois would have commented that the track record of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley is the worst in the history of the country and would have rallied the working class in their thousands to protect their interests.
Since September 2015, over 35.000 persons have lost their jobs and they have no prospects of gaining re-employment despite continued promises that the Government will be introducing amendments to the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act and the Industrial Relations Act in Parliament.
This Administration has also been forced to buckle under public pressure of allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace by one of its former Cabinet Ministers/MP and has now hurriedly launched a Draft National Workplace Policy on Sexual Harassment in Trinidad and Tobago.
What is there for workers to celebrate when, on top of higher taxes across the board, the Government is signalling its intention to increase water and electricity rates. Additionally thousands of workers and their respective families of Petrotrin, the Board of Inland Revenue (B.I.R.), Customs and Excise Division, WASA and T&TEC are all facing an uncertain future as their jobs are being threatened.
What is there for workers to celebrate in our country when every sector – national security (crime), the economy, education, industrial relations and collective bargaining and health care has literally collapse under the Rowley-led PNM Administration.
Indarsingh is also once again asking Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus the reasons for the delay in her being unable to deliver on her promised ten-point plan to assist all retrenched workers revolving around matching workers’ skills with job vacancies.
He said that the much negotiated and advancements of gainful employment, productivity and personal development which workers achieved during the Persad Bissessar-led People’s Partnership Administration (PPG) have been systematically eroded and instead, the working class has been reverted to a culture of dependence and a loss of security of tenure in the workplace.
Whilst the Administration is now boasting that “Under this PNM Government, it’s going to be a bright sun-shining day,” it is the workers who continue to be the first in line facing rising inflation, fixed salaries and sustained taxation, having a depreciating dollar, three increases in the price of gas and diesel, a 7% online tax and the pending implementation of the dreaded property tax (retroactively) which carries a $5,000 fine for failing to submit a valuation form.
Indarsingh, the former PPG’s Minister of State in the Ministries of Labour and Finance, lamented that while workers in both the public and private sectors are continually being persecuted, the silence of the Leadership of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) remains deafening and demonstrates quite clearly that they are again willing to say one thing and do another whenever the PNM is in office.
He cited the recent offer from the CPO to the PSA of 0%, 0%, 0% which he deems as a deliberate effort to undermine the independence of the free and fair collective bargaining process established under the Industrial Relations Act.
Indarsingh, a former President of a major Trade Union, said there will be nothing to celebrate on Labour Day 2018 as the Keith Rowley-led PNM Administration and Government is continuing its trend of contempt and disrespect for the labour movement.