PSA president to PM Rowley: Get out of workers’ way

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PSA president Leroy Baptiste. FILE PHOTO –

AFTER a flat rejection by trade unions of Government’s four per cent offer for the 2014-2019 collective bargaining period, president of the Public Services Association (PSA) Leroy Baptiste said it is time workers remove the main obstacle to equitable wages – the Prime Minister.

“All who stand in our way, we must fight, even if that someone is the Prime Minister. He must move out of our way, he must go,” Baptiste said in his Labour Day message to workers on Monday.

He said if Government cannot deliver on the solution, then the Government must step down.

Baptiste declared: “The war is on! But, the true casualties of the war, if Government wins, is not the trade union movement as an entity, but the workers and the destruction of what semblance of a middle class that is left, with the widening of the gap between the haves and the have-nots. That is our certain destiny.”

On Friday, Chief Personnel Officer Dr Daryl Dindial tabled a new offer to public servants – no increase for the period 2014- 2015, a two per cent increase for 2016, no increase for the period 2017-2018 and a two per cent increase for 2019. The offer was made to the PSA, the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) and the Fire Officers Association (FOA).

Dindial initially offered a two per cent increase over eight years.

Chief Personnel Officer Dr Daryl Dindial. –

Baptiste said Government’s promises and efforts to improve working conditions and the livelihoods of workers are not convincing enough.

Instead, he believes the restructuring of state enterprises is an attempt to dismantle unions, exploit workers and interfere with the terms and conditions of employment gained through collective bargaining.

“Workers must not only be hewers of wood and drawers of water, we must no longer be the working-poor, the exploited, the enslaved. We must be determined not to allow all the gains of the collective struggle of workers over the years to be taken away by this Government.”

The workers, he added, have been cornered into a fightback scenario. “But we must never lose sight that this is not by accident but rather by design. The Government has set about to structure society in such a way as to favour the wealthy minority.”

The fight, Baptiste said, will focus on stopping the retrenchment of workers all through the public sector, expanding organised labour and union representation throughout workplaces, job security and improving living and working conditions.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. –

Rowley who could not be reached for comment on Monday, had said on Saturday that the latest offer by the CPO would cost the Government and taxpayers $2.5 billion in back pay alone, and an additional $500 million annually.

Attempts to reach Labour Minister Stephan Mc Clashie via his cellphone, for a comment on Monday, were unsuccessful.