Workers must protect hard-earned benefits | Letters to the Editor

Labor Day 2022 has come and gone with two separate celebrations, separate resolutions but sadly without any concrete action plan or consultation with secondary management or rank-and-file members of the unions.

National Petroleum workers fought and won a battle to stop a previous government from selling off to private companies all the gas stations it bought from the multinationals – Esso, Shell, BP and Texaco. NP workers must again be called upon to stop the privatization of our service stations, especially in a trucking economy like Trinidad and Tobago.

With an ongoing economic crisis facing both union and non-union workers, not all NP workers in the OWTU and NWU bargaining units are exempt from this severe impoverishment, job losses and perverse industrial relations attacks on labor. of the working class, designed by the ruling elites. to reverse the hard-won gains of working people over the past 85 years of blood, death, sweat and tears.

NP workers must not believe that they will be treated any differently than workers in Petrotrin, TSTT, Public Service, Lake Asphalt, MTS, WASA and other areas slated for privatization and therefore massive cutbacks, as structural adjustment policies are implemented.

Hence the ridiculous bargaining offers, stalled negotiations and, in the case of the NWU bargaining unit, a virtual refusal to bargain by National Petroleum, as the government offers reduced pensions and increased l retirement age for workers.

NP workers should not forget that the government has decided to sell the main assets of the company, ie its retail outlets at gas stations. And then ?

Will this be the Petrotrin method of shutting down NP, contract fuel deliveries to totally private service stations?

The privatization of Petrotrin via a foreign company has recently been talked about. What to do with NP? Will the same policy apply?

NP’s facilities, port and properties are multi-million dollar facilities. Will they be sold? Will jobs, working conditions and standard of living be lost for the majority of NP workers?

Will the gains we have made and our elders sacrificed for be lost and replaced by poorly paid and overexploited workers?

Inflation is eating away at and reducing the value of our income, massive cutbacks are underway in all sectors of our economy. It is clear that there is no choice but to display our power and unity as workers to protect our hard-won gains and the future of our children.

Failure cannot be an option. The resources of our country belong to the many and not just to the few very wealthy elites. Policies favoring ruling elites are clearly exposed.

NP workers need to discuss the crisis facing workers who are designed to take us back to the days of subsistence living. NP workers need to join and unite with other workers to discuss the crisis we face.

Workers, in a united way, must call on leaders to form a united front to stop the cuts, prevent the reduction of pensions and the increase in the retirement age, as well as an end to the policy of wage reduction and guarantee that our national industries are not sold to foreign entities.

Tell our leaders that we want to fight back and not go back to the dark years of poverty. We should strive to raise the standard of living of unorganized minimum wage workers, not impoverish those who have a decent standard of living that they have earned through blood, sweat and tears.

A society of poor wages and conditions with high unemployment rates breeds mass poverty and mass poverty breeds mass crime and sometimes mass revolutions.

Why don’t our leaders remember our history? We do not support long periods of exploitation and class discrimination. We revolt: we take the appropriate measures and we restore with all our might our right to a decent standard of living.

Cecile Paul

Executive, National Workers Union, former NP worker

San Juan