Lum Kin: TTUTA supports no political party

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

TTUTA president Martin Lum Kin – File Photo

THE teachers union is stating that its non-aligned political position adopted in light of JTUM’s alliance with the Opposition does not translate to mean it “is in bed” with the ruling party.

President of the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA), Martin Lum Kin, said, from its inception, the union had taken a non-partisan position on politics, but members, as individuals, are free to support a party of their choosing.

Last week, the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), of which TTUTA is a member, met with Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and members of the UNC to show support for the party in the next general election due in 2025. Following that meeting, Lum Kin stated clearly that his union did not endorse any political party at this time.

On Thursday, he said, “Being non-partisan does not mean being apolitical or apathetic. One can be involved in political discourse and still be non-partisan by rationally analysing any political issue based strictly on its own merits.”

In a WhatsApp message in response to the issue, Lum Kin contended that the membership must have confidence in the leadership to speak out on issues, negotiate fairly, and in good faith without fear or favour, no matter which political party was in power.

“There must never be the perception that the association has ‘sold out’ or is ‘in bed’ with the ruling party. The association must never be seen to persuade the membership to align to a particular political party. Each member has the right to choose and not be influenced by the association.”

Remaining politically non-aligned is not novel to TTUTA as back in 2019, then president Lynsley Doodhai adopted a similar position when Persad-Bissessar called on the labour movement to join with the UNC in unseating the PNM in the 2020 general elections.

The labour movement did support the UNC as a part of the People’s Partnership coalition helping it secure victory and government after the 2010 general elections. That coalition has since dissolved.

At last week’s meeting, Persad-Bissessar promised the second time around would be “much sweeter”.

TTUTA noted that historically, the labour movement had been a strong anti-establishment influence on society, lobbying for a better quality of life for the ordinary man.

It noted founders of the movement such as Arthur Andrew Cipriani, Tubal Uriah Butler, Adrian Cola Rienzi, and Albert Gomes who later became heavily involved in politics, some of whom founded their own parties.

“It is therefore not surprising when a labour union gravitates towards one political party or another at any given point in time.”

TTUTA said while it appeared that the association might be swimming against the tide, as a professional organisation, its aim was to promote the cause of education.

In this context, therefore, it said, “It is essential to maintain a non-partisan approach to politics in order to maintain influence on all spheres of the political divide.”