Power Lies with Working People

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

LABOUR Day is a reminder that the power to overrule any tyrannical government lies in the hands of ordinary working-class people. 

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar in her Labour Day message focused on the present economic and employment situation in Trinidad and Tobago again casting blame on Government for the grim outlook. 


She said, “Labour Day reminds us that the power to uproot a tyrannical Government ultimately lies in the hands of the people. The ordinary working man and woman, through unity and determination, can change oppressive political and economic systems by fighting for their rights of dignity, fairness, equality and justice.” 

With a message themed “We Shall Overcome: The power of the working class is the hope of the nation, Persad-Bissessar gave a brief history of Labour Day reminding the population of the hunger marches and protest  held in the early 20th century. 


She said, “The labour movement has secured much of what we often take for granted – minimum wage, forty-hour work week, rights to sick, personal and maternity leave, workplace security, workers’ compensation, insurance and pension plans.” 

However, under the administration led by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, measures have deteriorated.  

“The Rowley regime continues its concerted, calculated attack against the working class and has now ruthlessly eroded the base of organised labour,” Persad-Bissessar said. 


The Opposition Leader also reminded the nation of what she achieved during her tenure as Prime Minister which included settling over 133 collective agreements valued at close to $6 billion. 

She said, “Mass retrenchment has been the order of the day under the guise of restructuring. There has also been a proliferation of contract employment throughout the public sector, resulting in over 16,000 contract workers currently in the Civil Service, equivalent to its permanent cadre of some 16,000.” 

Persad-Bissessar vowed to improve workers lives should the United National Congress return to government. 


She said, “The UNC also recommits to fundamental labour reform measures, including a comprehensive revision of the Industrial Relations Act, an overhauling of the archaic Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act inclusive of the establishment of the Severance Fund Regime, and a Basic Conditions of Work regime under the well-established ILO principle of Tripartism and Social Dialogue.” 

And Persad-Bissessar urged union and labour leaders to unite in defence of  citizens’ safety, security, freedom and the nation’s democracy and “eternally struggle against the Rowley Government’s destructive authoritarianism and indifference to the people’s plight.” 


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