Union explains why UNC must vacate Rienzi Complex

Sunday, July 17, 2016 - 20:00

The All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union is seeking to set the record straight with regard to its reason for calling on the United National Congress to leave Rienzi Complex by the end of the month.

President General of the union, Nirvan Maharaj say the union tried several times to enter a lease agreement with the UNC but says the party never responded favourably to its efforts.

The following is the union's statement:

"The President General of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union wishes to kindly inform the Chairman of the United National Congress Mr. David Lee that it might actually be a good idea to do a proper investigation into the UNC/RIENZI rental issue, before making statements that are unfounded and unsubstantiated.

As President General I understand that Mr. Lee is indeed a Johnny Come lately to the UNC and may therefore be unaware of the intimate circumstances surrounding this issue. As such, not being involved in any meaningful way in the UNC before 2016, before, he can be excused for his inadvertent mistakes and misinformation and misinterpretation of the issue.

As the President General of the Union I therefore wish to point out the following:

* That the situation is simply one of a land lord tenant relationship, and the Union is exercising its right as the owner of the said property.

* The United National Congress has been a month to month tenant of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union since 2012.

* The All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union has been attempting to negotiate a lease arrangement with the UNC since 2010 to no avail. In fact correspondence sent to the UNC can be provided on request.

* That it is not a question of paying a fixed increase, as much as it is a question of coming to a proper legally binding agreement by documentation.

* The Union allowed leeway in this matter, because of the historical dynamics of the unique relationship both parties enjoyed even from the days of the ULF, in the hope that there could be resolution, however this never happened.

* The UNC in the past has consistently failed to correspond and /or communicate and/or officially reply to the documentation of the Union concerning this issue.

* In fact, in regard to the final rent increase, one meeting was held with Mr. David Lee and Mr. Rudranath Indarsingh of the UNC and Mr Nirvan Maharaj, President General, Mr. Rajindra Mohan, General Secretary and the Union’s legal counsel. This meeting lasted fifteen minutes as the UNC representatives indicated they were not ready to meet the Unions terms for the continued rental of office space by the UNC.

* The UNC by its actions and failure to respond in a meaningful way has consistently treated the Union with disdain and contempt, acting as though it had a divine right to occupy the said premises. By its refusal to officially communicate with the Union and by its indication in the one meeting that was held, the UNC by its subsequent silence, implied that it was no longer interested in the pursuit of a rental agreement.

* It must be noted that before 2012 the UNC paid Two thousand, five hundred dollars a month stipend for the use of Rienzi and for a few years subsequent to its formation enjoyed the use of office space free of charge. This included all amenities. When the rent was raised to twelve thousand in 2012 after they refused to negotiate a lease arrangement with the Union, they paid the increase, and by their refusal to enter into a lease arrangement became a month to month tenant.

* Because of changing economic dynamics and the Union revisiting its maintenance cost and the facilities it provides, the rent has been raised to Twenty-five thousand dollars. The UNC has in a fifteen minute meeting indicated that it will not be able to meet the new rent and as such the Union has asked the Party to vacate the premises by the 31st July 2016, on or before twelve midnight.

* The UNC has never paid for electricity, water, air-condition or even toiletries in the month to month tenancy since 2011 or in fact since it occupied office space at Rienzi Complex.

* Damage done to the Union’s car park by the UNC and for which they were written to, has never been repaired nor did the UNC respond to the letter.

* Letters sent to the UNC to clean up the storage space it occupied to the south of the building was never responded to.

In light of the above the Union has no choice but to exercise all options available to it and I do hope that this clears up any misconception that may exist over this issue.

I thank you for your kind consideration."

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