Govt should take a page out of Trinidad and Tobago’s book

Govt should take a page out of Trinidad and Tobago’s book

first_imgDear Editor,While in Guyana the jobless and beleaguered sugar workers are forced to protest for their lawful entitlements and are told by the Prime Minister, through his representative, that their concerns would be raised at Cabinet, our union’s attention is drawn to the situation regarding the workers of Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Petrotrin). While the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union disagrees with reasons being advanced for the closure of the company’s refining operations and recognises that the closure will take a heavy toll on the workers, their families and their communities, we saw considered attempts by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to at least dampen the serious consequences of closure.On September 19, 2018, the media reported that Energy Minister Franklin Khan said Petrotrin and the Oilfeld Workers Trade Union (OWTU) were engaged in discussions regarding severance and said “…the State, Board and Government is willing to sit with the union… and possibly offer some enhancement to that package”. But in addition to a possible enhanced severance package, that country’s Social Development Minister, Cherrie Ann Crichlow-Cockburn, according to the report, shared that the Government had devised a plan which would offer the retrenched workers assistance to purchase food, to access public assistance and general assistance; would see vulnerable workers benefiting from an electricity subsidy; the workers would have access to health/wellness centres; they would receive advice on financial security; the Government would assist NGOs who in turn would set up soup kitchens and temporary shelters; and toll-free call centres for workers who require information on Government assistance.We also saw the Energy Minister in a report which appeared in the August 31, of sections of the media that those workers above 55 saying “…for people over 55, pay them off, and they’ll have their full pension”. From the Minister’s statement, he seems to say that workers beyond 55 will get both their severance and their pension.Indeed, while we know first-hand the serious difficulties of closure, we recognise that, from all indications, some serious attempts are being made to cushion the fall by our Caribbean counterpart. We sincerely hope all that is promised to the Petrotrin workers materialises, recognising our sad past with promises. Now for the 7000 sugar workers who have been put out onto the cold breadline, our caring Government is pushing workers to the brink; forcing them on the picket line to demand their lawful entitlements; engaging in all sort of legal gymnastics to further deny them their just payments, and then rubbing salt in the wound by saying their payments are haemorrhaging the country. It seems to us that it is the Government which is haemorrhaging the thousands of retrenched sugar workers.We urge our Government to take a page out of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago’s book and considerately treat our people in a humane manner at this difficult period in their lives.Yours faithfully,Seepaul NarineGeneral SecretaryGAWUlast_img

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