Ferguson: Scrap-iron dealers, workers united

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: TT Scrap Iron Dealers Association president Allan Ferguson.

SCRAP Iron Dealers Association president Allan Ferguson has dismissed claims in the public domain that the association has done nothing to help people who were affected by Government’s decision to ban the export of scrap iron for six months.

He countered that the association and everyone who has been affected by the industry’s closure are united in their call for Government to immediately reopen the industry.

On August 18, some scrap-iron workers in Claxton Bay accused the Government, Opposition and the association of doing nothing to help them since the ban was imposed.

Responding to their claims at a news conference at the Oilfield Workers Trade Union’s (OWTU) Paramount Building headquarters in San Fernando on Monday, Ferguson said, “In everything that you have going on, you will always find two or three people to make bad statements about people.”

He added that anyone who claims the association is doing nothing to help affected scrap-iron workers could not be living in Trinidad and Tobago.

“I am always in front. I lead from in front.”

Ferguson claimed to spend millions of dollars of his own money to help the industry.

“How you could say the association is doing nothing?”

He said association officials went to Point Fortin, Barrackpore and Penal to meet with scrap-iron workers and other people associated with the industry.

“Every single person in our organisation stands firm with this organisation.”

Ferguson said since the ban was was announced on August 8, there has been an increase in the number of people registering with the association.

“I think they (Government) made a big mistake and they put us together now.”

Ferguson reiterated, “It could be worse, but because of myself, because of me, I’m telling people hold up, because we still have a chance that the Government will reverse this decision.”

On the protests, he commented: “Sometimes when I go in certain places like Claxton Bay and they (scrap-iron workers) tell me they can’t buy their food, they can’t pay their bill. I could ask them to stop (protesting)?”

The protesters, Ferguson continued, told him it would be better if the “Government would come and kill all of us.”

Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) president Ancel Roget agreed.

“Let me just say what they (Government) do in situations like this is,they take action and send their ‘plants’ to divide and mash up the struggle.”

Roget said JTUM will take part in the association’s motorcade from the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba to Port of Spain on Wednesday, to call for the industry’s reopening.

He called on all right-thinking citizens to participate too.

Roget said no one should believe the industry’s six-month closure would not affect them.

“Wait your turn.”

He also called on the Government to use the $7.5 million it was allocating to celebrate TT’s 60th anniversary of independence to help people affected by the scrap-iron export ban.

“We have nothing to celebrate.”

Ferguson said the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) will also be participating in the motorcade. He added the Opposition UNC may also take part, but he has not received any official notification of that.