MSJ on democracy

Accusing Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of going against the tenets of his party's founder the late Dr Eric Williams, the political leader of the Movement for Social Justice, David Abdulah reiterated yesterday that peaceful protests and trade unionism were pillars of democracy.

Speaking to reporters as the MSJ held stage two of its march for justice, Abdulah said Rowley was trying to re-engineer the society to get rid of trade unions. 

"This restructuring of the society is seeking to dig up the foundations that were laid down by Dr Williams.

There was a recognition by Dr Williams that strong progressive trade unions were an integral pillar of democracy and the well being of all workers. Rowley's PNM is going contrary to the policies of his own party's founding leader," Abdulah said.

He noted that the shutting down of Petrotrin and the retrenchment of all workers was a means of getting the Oilfield Workers Trade Union out of the oil industry. Abdulah added that the government was also attacking the Communication Workers Trade Union.

"We are in solidarity with all workers who are facing injustices. The motorcade is saying that we must work to end injustice and strive towards a better life for all and not just a few," Abdulah said. 

He said some of the injustice facing T&T today included mass retrenchment at Petrotrin and TSTT; unemployment throughout T&T; policies of austerity which were putting pressure on working people and the poor; high and rising cost of living and frozen wages/salaries; growing inequality between the elites and the ordinary citizens; continuing problems on the Tobago-Trinidad Seabridge; issues of bad roads; problems in schools; a health care system that is not delivering; crime and the broken criminal justice system.

Abdulah also thanked the police for assisting them with the motorcade. Initially, the motorcade was carded for Monday but it had to be postponed because Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said they had no approvals.

Abdulah said  while the MSJ did not intend in any way to defy the decision of the Acting Commissioner, he believed that it was "important in a democratic country for peaceful, legitimate means of protest and expression to take place."

" The MSJ will always uphold this right and fight to ensure that it is respected and maintained," he added.

Thursday's motorcade started in San Fernando and went through parts of Central, East and North Trinidad before ending at the Nelson Mandela Park in Port-of-Spain. 

Reporter: Radhica De Silva

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