Unions to move ‘motion of no confidence’ in PM on Labour Day

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

NATUC’s general secretary Michael Annisette (centre) with fellow trade union leaders announcing their plans for Labour Day 2022 celebrations at a press conference at Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union head office in Barataria. – Photo by Sureash Cholai

To mark Labour Day 2022, trade unions are planning to make the symbolic move of bringing a “motion of no confidence” in the Prime Minister, allowing its members to vote at an upcoming rally in Fyzabad.

This year’s theme, Unite to Fight: Today for Me, Tomorrow for You, warns all workers, particularly those unaffected by government decisions, that everyone’s job could be at risk in the future.

At a press conference on Wednesday hosted by the Joint Trade Union Movement, at the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union Barataria office, Ancel Roget, president of the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union, said the workers will send another message.

This is part of their rejection of the two per cent wage increase offered by the Chief Personnel Officer for the negotiating periods 2014-2021.

Roget said the event would be a significant occasion as unions continue the fight for a fair wage increase, against mass retrenchment and other issues plaguing workers.

Since the Labour Day celebrations had to be put off for the past two years as the country turned its focus to reducing covid19 infections and deaths, this year’s rally is expected to be a significant one for workers.

“This is against (Prime Minister) Rowley’s administration, against Rowley’s disrespectful approach and his attack on the trade union movement. All of the issue we continue to have with Rowley is from his approach to governance, the issues of this major wave of retrenchment left, right and centre since this government came into office. We have seen no end and no end today is in sight for the retrenchment that has taken place.”

He said a no-confidence motion was “very much necessary in our Parliament, but because of our current Constitution, and because of what the Constitution gives the Speaker and the government, we don’t expect any serious motion like this to take place in the Parliament, That is why the people’s Parliament, through the unions, will do this for the first time.”

The unions will also highlight concerns over the increased cost of living, outdated labour laws and increase in taxes during the event.

Speaking at the briefing TT Unified Teachers Association president Antonia De Freitas said she sees this march as the beginning of a series of actions to come by teachers.

“Something is wrong with the state and TTUTA is saying the lack of confidence in the state has caused TTUTA to take it further.”

She said its general council, in a meeting on Tuesday evening, moved a no-confidence motion in the Ministry of Education.

“It is failing our educators and students.

“Labour Day 2022 is about survival. We will not sit back and say we are comfortable where we are at, because we are not.

“After Labour Day we have more to come ,because it’s today for me, tomorrow for you. We not standing for that.”

Public Services Association vice president Felisha Thomas called on all members to reflect on the future of their children as unions prepare to march through the streets.

“We ask that you sit back and reflect, reflect on what your future will be. Reflect on what your children’s future will be and support, not to support your union, but understand that your support is actually for yourself.”

TT Registered Nurses Association head Idi Stuart described the event as the beginning of a “bruising” battle ahead.

Michael Annisette, secretary general of the National Trade Union Centre, who will lead the march in Tobago, called on all workers on the island to come out. He said workers must make the government pay for the decisions it has made that are now affecting the live hood of thousands.

Also at the briefing were representatives from the Fire Service Association, Communication Workers Union, TT Postal Workers Union, General Sanitisation Workers Union, Aviation Workers Union, National Union of Government and Federated Workers, Amalgamated Workers Union, Contractors and General Workers Union and the Transport and General Workers Union.