The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) political leader David Abdulah has lamented that 90 per cent of workers have not had a wage or salary increase in the last six years, even while the Parliament debated pension increases for retired judges, MPs, prime ministers and presidents.
He said this was one of the many issues the working class faces under an inequitable economic system that the PNM and UNC have subjected the country to, as he called on thousands to participate in today’s Labour Day celebrations.
At yesterday’s media conference at the party’s headquarters in San Fernando, Abdulah’s told the working class it must put the labour movement in charge of the country’s governance if it wants to fix the system—where only the elite prosper.
Today is the first Labour Day since the government shut down Petrotrin and terminated its 4700-plus workforce.
It followed retrenchments at State-owned Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) and the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) in the past year. Abdulah said that it was in citizens’ best interest to join the labour force.
Outlining the consequences of T&T’s elite economic system, he said there were retrenchments in the public sector and the private sector by contractors in the service and oil industries. He said there has been a proliferation of contract labour and no improvement in labour legislation, while the majority of the working class has not had a salary increase, their bills continue to increase.
“All of these are fundamental symptoms of a system that is in the interest, not of the common man or the workers. It is in the interest of the elite: those who control economic power and those in political office who support the economic system and the status quo because they benefit themselves directly because they get money from party financiers who are from the economic elite”, said Abdulah.
“The political parties—PNM and UNC—have been reinforcing an economic system and policies of austerity which are putting pressure on the backs of working people, on the backs of farmers, on the backs of small business people who are self employed in the interest of big capital, multinational corporations and large businesses in this country,” Abdulah said.
He said the future of T&T depends on what working people decide to do.
He said the citizens have been changing governments and prime ministers religiously since 1981 and there have been “no fundamental shifts” in the lives of the working class because they all enforce the same economic system.
“What the MSJ is saying on this eve of June 19 is that we as a people have to change that. The only solution to the problems that workers have is for labour to be in political control of the State”, he said.
Reporter" Kevon Felmine