Govt is the public health emergency

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GO SO: From left, PSA president Leroy Baptiste, Natuc head Michael Annisette and OWTU president general Ancel Roget in discussions at the Jtum motorcade on Sunday. PHOTO BY MARVIN HAMILTON –

MEMBERS of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) arrived at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on Sunday evening – the final leg of a motorcade which began hours earlier in San Fernando.

Trade unions represented included the Public Services Association (PSA), Postal Workers Union, the Amalgamated Workers Union, TTUTA, Fire Services Association, Transport and Industrial Workers Union, Sanitation Workers Union among others.

PSA president Leroy Baptiste, addressed the large crowd at Savannah, saying, “We gather here to stand against nothing short of the exploitation of workers in Trinidad and Tobago. What we have is a widening of the gap between the haves and the have nots.”

Baptiste said what the JTUM has started was just the beginning.

He said that he heard that the Prime Minister had lamented about violence in the country and that it may be declared a public health emergency. Baptiste offered an alternative view saying violence is caused by the macroeconomic policy of its Government.

He said violence was among the symptoms of the macroeconomic policy enacted by the Rowley-led administration. “That is the public health emergency we must deal with!”

Baptiste said that the goals of these demonstrations, in the interim, is for negotiations to bring about a fair settlement for the public service; to end the targeting of workers in the name of restructuring; an end to retrenchment of workers and hiring some back on contract at lower wages and returning decent work and wages for the working class.

“People are working on minuscule salaries that don’t allow them to qualify to buy a home or approach the bank because they’re on contract,” Baptiste said.

He added that the OJT (on-the-job training) program was “absolute nonsense,” as it is not work and was disrespectful. Baptiste said the OJT is what Government is touting as gainful employment.

JTUM head and president general of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget warned this was only the beginning of the trade unions’ crusade against the Government and that JTUM will criss-cross the entire country to get its message across that it has no confidence in the Prime Minister and his Government.

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