As the country marks the 85th anniversary of the founding of the modern trade union movement in Trinidad and Tobago, workers are facing increasing challenges and worsening economic and social conditions as a result of the PNM government’s inability to manage our country’s affairs.
Instead of the progression and upliftment of workers in this country, we are seeing a regression of the policies and programmes put in place by the People’s Partnership administration, and the decimation of the working class.
This PNM administration has presided over massive job losses, with over 120,000 people being put out of work and zero jobs created. The draconian measures undertaken by this government during the pandemic led to thousands of business closures, and many small businesses were unable to recover.
This government has no care or concern for workers and continues to attempt to hoodwink the population into believing that all is well in our economy. They have failed to produce a single idea or initiative to attract foreign direct investment, encourage new business development, diversify the economy or create jobs.
Further, they have cut funding to education and skills programmes, because investing in our human capital is not a priority of the PNM.
The people of Trinidad and Tobago have suffered for seven years under this oppressive Rowley regime, and they are saying “Enough is enough!” The people want a government that cares about addressing their needs, and one that has a vision and a plan to improve their lives. The PNM has shown that they are incapable of that.
The party I lead, the United National Congress, has a clear plan to return our economy to a growth path, and create thousands of new jobs for the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Our track record is clear – during the administration I led, over 56,000 new jobs were created, and 135 wage negotiations were settled. We expanded technical-vocational skills programmes and provided laptops to secondary school students to prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Our plan for economic transformation includes reducing the tax burden, jumpstarting food security, investing in renewable energy and creating three new funds to mobilize financial resources.
The United National Congress, which was birthed from the blood, sweat and tears of the labour movement, continues to stand unequivocally with the workers of this country. We remain relentless in our pursuit of prosperity, safety, fairness, peace, bread and justice.
The UNC, working with organized Labour and the Trade Union Movement, will work towards restoring trade union democracy to its fullest through radical and appropriate amendments to the Industrial Relations Act and other pieces of Labour legislation.
On this, the 85th anniversary of the Butler revolution, let us unite against our common oppressors and embrace genuine and meaningful change.
Together, we can rebuild and restore Trinidad and Tobago.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition
19th June 2022 –