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Labour Day 2014... PNM & Roget... nothing new

By Capil Bissoon

As I write this week’s column, this year’s Labour Day celebrations have just concluded. The PNM joined Ancel Roget and company ostensibly to celebrate the struggle of workers, but it was really to cuss the “Govament” and claim to advance workers’ agenda.
The ritualised celebration has not changed since the days of Butler. It was started and will remain unchanged until the fossilised PNM and the existing trade union movement wake up and realise that we are in the 21st century.
How could anyone who professes morality and spirituality still celebrate the murder of Charlie King? Whatever our thoughts on that hapless police corporal, he was merely doing his job. He had a responsibility to his family and community. He too was a worker but a mob murdered him in rage. Today our civilised leaders still celebrate that violent act of pouring kerosene on a human being and setting him ablaze.
What would Jesus have said to those about to light the match?
From my reading of the Bible, Jesus would have admonished the gathering: “Let him who is without sin light the fire and burn Charlie King!” But Jesus was not there; the mob took over and the PNM and Mr Roget unthinkingly celebrate and honour that murderous, unchristian act unmindful of the fact that it is all part of the subliminal violence which bedevils our society.
The whole celebration smacks of yesterday’s thinking, old-fashioned perspectives and repetitious rantings taken from any 19th century socialist manual. There are no new ideas. Dr Rowley, Franklin Khan and Ancel Roget need an education to understand that they cannot advance the workers’ agenda just by marching, shouting, ringing bells and pelting useless blows at imaginary foes.
Calling on workers to march outside the Office of the Prime Minister and saying that the reason for doing so is a “surprise” tells me that the singular purpose is to cause instability, as Mr Roget promised, and to mamaguy workers into joining his obscene attempts to bully and harass a Government that has done more for labour in four years than Mr Roget and the PNM did in ten.
I am yet to hear from Dr Rowley any new ideas to advance the cause of workers. I challenge Ancel Roget to tell us how embracing the PNM makes workers more empowered. The PNM left workers in a mess and the Partnership Government has been cleaning it up since 2010.
Mr Roget and Dr Rowley think they can take all of us for a ride, hoping to conceal their bankruptcy of ideas, lack of vision and shortage of strategic thinking. I have four 21st century suggestions for Mr Roget to advance the cause of workers.
1. Identify systems and procedures, including educational advancement, to move workers into management. Such workers would in turn make the workplace more worker-friendly.
2. Move away from the addiction to wage increases based only on percentage. Between taxes and inflation workers gain little from such increases. Instead negotiate for equity in companies or state enterprises. For example, T&TEC workers could own a 45 per cent stake in that company and share in the profits, which they can pass on to their children! Employees will work harder for a company which they actually own and productivity will increase.
3. Unions can use their contacts abroad to ensure cross-postings for workers in global industries to improve their skills and expose them to new ideas.
4. Let unions use their leadership role with management, workers and credit unions, to encourage firms to outsource their needs for goods and services to companies which, through credit unions, are owned by workers. This will move workers from being merely sellers of labour to owners of capital.
I don’t expect such ideas to come from Dr Rowley and Mr Roget because they require strategic thinking and a genuine concern for the welfare of workers and for T&T. Instead they prefer to march without purpose, wave flags, rant and rave, misbehave, cuss the Government, fool the party supporters, hoodwink workers and hope that no one will notice.
Well, the people are noticing. They know that leadership carries a sacred contractual responsibility to advance the cause of those being led.
Anyone looking at poverty, income inequality and crime in PNM-led areas would conclude that Dr Rowley has failed his followers and all of T&T.
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