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Trade unions warn Govt

The trinidad Guardian / Trade unions say they will be rallying their forces to resist any plan by the Government to send home more workers.

In response to statements made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at his second Conversations with the Prime Minister in Pt Fortin on Tuesday night, Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) president Ancel Roget and president of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke said the labour movement is uniting against what they describe as Government’s anti-worker policies.

Their warning came after Dr Rowley said there are 50,000 public servants on the State’s payroll and while there have been no major layoffs in the sector, he is not sure how long those numbers can be sustained if revenues continue to decline.

Duke, who described the statement as a “veiled threat,” challenged Rowley’s statement on the size of the public service which he said actually comprises 80,000 teachers, public officers, fire officers, health workers and prison officers.

“I serve notice to the Prime Minister to let him know we will not allow him to get away with mischief. Since he has entered office he has not offered one positive word of hope to public officers, now he has offered another threat. We are not taking that,” he said.

The PSA leader said public officers are living on 2013 salaries in 2017 when food prices and costs have increased along with the inflation rate.

“There is no way you can unilaterally make a decision to affect the lives of public officers and not consult with the PSA,” he said.

Duke said on August 4, trade unions will join forces to resist anti-worker policies. Similar sentiments were expressed by Roget, who warned: “If your only option is to send workers home we will have no choice but to send you, Imbert and the band of you home.”

He said JTUM felt “a great sense of betrayal” by the Government with whom it had signed a memorandum of understanding prior to the 2015 general election.

“Government is now leading the charge in sending home workers. We alone bearing the yoke of the burden of adjustment, there is no equitable sharing of the burden,” Roget said. He added: “They have brought us together. We will not remain silent while they choke us and pull out our eyeballs. We will rock this place by storm.”

Roget said Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus was told about their concerns last Friday when she met with JTUM officials for a bi-monthly meeting.

“We warned her about the fate the Government is facing if they continue to show a disregard and disrespect for workers and continue to betray us and the MOU which we signed,” he said.

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