MSJ May Day message: Unite against anti-worker policies

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Political leader of the MSJ, David Abdulah address members of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) during the May Day march and rally in San Fernando on May 1. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

WORKERS need to unite, but unity is not enough. They must unite to fight and win. That is the message political leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah delivered as he joined with workers in commemorating May Day on May 1.

May Day, which is celebrated around the globe, gained momentum with the right to an eight-hour workday. Although Labour Day is celebrated locally on June 19, unions commemorated the day with a march and rally in San Fernando.

“The only way to effectively push back against the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) Government’s anti-worker, anti-union, neo-liberal policies is to unite and fight,” Abdulah said, and labour and progressive political parties must unite for this to become reality.

While the courts have ruled in favour of some labour disputes, Abdulah said the real location for workers to fight is not in the courts but “at the workplaces and in peaceful mass demonstrations on the streets. That way workers will win.”

He said this is the spirit which the working class and the labour movement must internalise, as he identified some of the important battles the unions have won in the last year.

He congratulated the unions which led these fights, pointing to the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), which won significant benefits for Yara employees who took strike action.

He also identified the Public Services Association (PSA), which not only refused government’s four per cent offer to public officers, but challenged the Special Tribunal of the Industrial Court which sought to impose five-year agreements on workers, and won in the High Court.

“The Aviation Communication and Allied Workers’ Union just won in the High Court the battle to be the recognised majority union (RMU) at Caribbean Airlines, which the court held was the successor company to BWIA.”

Members of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) raise their clenched fists during the May Day march and rally in San Fernando on May 1- Photo by Lincoln Holder

Abdulah said he expects other victories by unions pursuing workers’ interests in the courts, noting that similar victories have been won in action around the globe through militant strikes.

He used as an example university students in the US and elsewhere collectively demonstrating against imperialism and colonialism and genocide by Israel and the US in Gaza.

Recalling that the father of trade unionism, Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler, also led a political party, Abdulah said the MSJ will be taking a page out of his book to bring about a revolution of the mind.

“The MSJ’s position is that for workers to win justice for all, the labour movement and the progressive political party need to work together. The mass movement needs to walk on two legs.”

To this end, he said the MSJ will embark on a drive to educate the masses so they can understand and fight for their rights.

“As the country confronts the very many problems and challenges that we face today, we are confident that the labour movement will continue to play its historic role as the agency to unite the working class and engage in the fight that is necessary to bring about a better life and justice for all.”