IN response to the Prime Minister’s call for trade unionists to be patient over wage negotiations, Couva South MP Rudy Indarsingh is telling Rowley, “Public servants cannot take patience to the bank.”
He called on trade unions and all public servants to unite to fight, to rein in and fire the government of Dr Keith Rowley.
The union plan to protest and shut down the country on Friday over a minuscule two per cent wage increase offer.
He said just like in the 1930s, when Adrian Cola Rienzi and Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler unified oil and sugar workers and Basdeo Panday and George Weekes did the same in the 1970s to unite the entire working class, present-day unions in and out of the three umbrella organisations must unite.
In a tone reminiscent of his days as president general of the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union, Indarsingh recalled when money was owed to Rowley, then Opposition Leader, and the PP was in Government, he showed no patience.
Indarsingh showed a video of Rowley demanding his money and saying he “don’t like his money to sleep out” as he addressed the United National Congress (UNC) Monday night forum.
He used the video to illustrate wat he said was the hypocrisy of Rowley, who was now appealing for calm from the outraged trade union leaders and membership.
“When your PM was owed his wages that he worked for, just like you public servants, he told the Parliament, ‘I want my money now.’ Where was the patience, where was the rationale he is asking for?” Indarsingh submitted. “I want to tell Rowley workers cannot take patience to the supermarket. They cannot take patience when they have to buy schoolbooks for their children, who have to travel in the maxi taxis and pay for transport for school.
“You cannot ask for patience when single parents and mothers have to buy groceries, baby milk, Pampers. Can they ask business owners for patience?”
Finance Minister Colm Imbert said during debate on the Variation of Appropriation (Financial Year 2022) Bill on May 16, that part of the $1.98 billion surplus received at the end of April will be used to pay increased wages to public servants.
However, at the start of negotiations with the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) Dr Daryl Dindial last Thursday, an offer of two per cent over an eight-year period was put on the table. The unions have rejected the offer.
“Government has insulted you for the last seven years. They have battered you. They have bruised you. They have humiliated you. They have offered you, in the most dismissive and arrogant manner, two per cent.”
He compared the price of basic food items from 2015-2022, pointing out exorbitant increases in the cost of a loaf of bread from $11 to $16, the spike in premium gas from $5.75 a litre to $6.75, super gas from $2.70 to $5.95 and diesel from $150 to $3.91.
“If you are travelling from Scarborough to Charlotteville, the cost to fill up your tank has moved from $100 to $221 – and public servants and the unions are being told not to shut down the country, to have patience over this outrageous anti-worker offer.”
He said the UNC warned trade unionists when Imbert announced the start of negotiations this would have been a farce and the only way they can succeed against the might of the PNM is to unite.
Indarsingh also called on Rowley and Imbert to say what plans there are for subsidising high food prices and energy cost as he read from a report by international financial institutions calling for consideration of granting such subsidies.
He said the windfall from oil and gas mus benefit all of Trinidad and Tobago and not just the millionaire wives of ministers, friends and financiers of the Cabinet.