Abdulah: Let labour govern

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

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