Sunday, January 21, 2018

Roget wants members to march to PM’s Office


Labour march: Heads of the labour movement, along with Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) members, lead the rally from Avocat Junction through Pepper Village towards Charlie King Junction in Fyzabad yesterday during Labour Day celebrations. See Page 3 —Photo: TREVOR WATSON

Mark Fraser

President-general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union Ancel Roget yesterday called on trade union members to assemble in Port of Spain in one week for a march to the Office of the Prime Minister.

Roget did not elaborate on what they plan to do when they arrive at Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s office. He told those gathered at Charlie King Junction, Fyzabad, yesterday for the annual Labour Day rally that he wanted to maintain the “element of surprise”.

“We must not give away our strategies,” he said

Roget, later on in his speech, said, “Exactly one week from today, next Friday, 27 June, 5 p.m., we will assemble in our thousands at King George the Fifth Park in Port of Spain... We will go directly to the Office of the Prime Minister Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar... The one who has ultimate responsibility in our Government,” he said.

During his speech yesterday, Roget also called for the Prime Minister to announce elections and to fire Sport Minister Anil Roberts.

He, however, devoted most of his hour-and-a-half-long presentation to former OWTU leader-now-Labour Minister Errol McLeod. He said it was now “all-out war”.

Roget said he had defected to “enemy territory” and was no longer the Minster of Labour. “He is the Minister against Labour.” Roget said.

Roget described McLeod, who he succeeded as leader of the OWTU, as the worst labour leader the country had ever seen.

Responding to comments made by McLeod during the People’s Partnership rally at Chaguanas last month, in which he told trade union leaders to focus on issues surrounding industrial relations rather than getting involved in politics, Roget yesterday said McLeod had crossed the line and made an unprovoked attack on OWTU and trade unions.

Roget read from a newspaper article and also played a recording of McLeod at a past Labour Day rally when McLeod made statements to the contrary.

“We declare all-out war... He has turned his back on the labour movement... Those who seek to destroy the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union will only end up destroying themselves,” Roget said.

Roget said even children in the country were aware of the video which allegedly showed a Government minister with an illegal substance. He called on Persad-Bissessar, “If not for the sake of our young people and the future of our country, fire Anil Roberts now.”

The rally began with TTUTA president Devanand Sinanan, who addressed the crowd on the salary increase for judges and politicians with the passage of the Retiring Allowances (Legislative Service) Bill and the Judges Salaries and Pensions (Amendment).

Sinanan asked how they evaluated their performance to determine they were worthy of such increases. He said the Salaries Review Commission had been ignored when they recommended the commission be equipped to carry out its mandate.

Apart from addressing the crowd to stand up against privatisation of companies, the Communication Workers’ Union’s (CWU) Joseph Remy warned the PSA president against ever visiting CWU Hall. “Don’t disrespect the trade union movement.”

Duke was expected to be at yesterday’s rally, but on the previous day opted not to attend.

Leader of the Movement for Social Justice David Abdulah called on those present to challenge the status quo. He quoted singer Bob Marley as he said one way this could be done is if we “emancipate ourselves from mental slavery”. Abdulah said a revolution of the mind will lead to real change.