Thursday, February 28, 2002

Accomplishments of February 2002

February 2002
  • Health and Safety Seminar
  • Signing of Charles Candy Agreement
  • Republication of Battlefront Newsletter
  • Fund Raising Bar Be Cue for Union Officer

Friday, February 22, 2002


Press Release : February 22nd 2002

The All Trinidad Sugar and General Trade Workers Trade Union feels a sense of vindication now that the Minister of Agriculture has decided to take a note to Cabinet seeking the provision of a $324 million loan through a Letter of Comfort, to rescue the financially troubled Caroni Ltd. The Union had earlier maintained that commercial banks had in the past accepted Letters of Comfort to fund the state enterprise upon request from the Cabinet, and that there was no requirement that the matter be placed before Parliament. The Union had stressed that the Industry and the respective stakeholders could have been spared the alarm, panic, anxiety and sensationalism that was created when the Government had announced that the future of the Company was in jeopardy due to a lack of funding. We had called for a more prudent approach, which would have involved dialogue with the interested parties within the Industry.

In the circumstances, we view the decision to seek additional funding through a letter of Comfort as a positive step and one, which would inevitably redound to the benefit of the Industry, the workers and their families.

The Union also awaits the "decisive plan for the redirecting of Caroni Ltd. " which is due by May 31st 2002. Interestingly, this announcement was made by Trade Minister Ken Valley and not the Minister of Agriculture. The Union therefore questions the identity of the Minister who has responsibility for Caroni (1975) Ltd. The Union was never consulted as to the official policy of the P.N.M. with respect to the future of the Sugar Industry. The administration seems bent upon deciding the future of the Industry without consulting the stakeholders. Such an attitude can render any final proposal meaningless.

This appears to be another rebuff of the ATS&GWTU leadership and a further reflection of a pattern of discrimination and alienation of sugar workers and their families, capable of destroying their job security and livelihood.

Friday, February 15, 2002


Press Release : February 15th 2002

The All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union considers the Government's continued inaction and silence on the future of Caroni 1975 Ltd. as further proof of the utter contempt and disdain which their administration have adopted towards the all important national Industry and its workers.

Several weeks after pronouncing to the public that the financial status of the Company was to be placed on the national agenda and after the convening of several Cabinet meetings, the government has failed to inform the relevant stakeholders of the progress of deliberations (if any), on the future of the said Industry.

At a press briefing dated February 15th 2002, Mr. Patrick Manning informed the media of the matters that were discussed at the weekly Cabinet the day before. He outlined then, that they had deliberated on inter alia, the renewal of the MV Beaufort to service the route between Trinidad and Tobago, the strengthening of the Government's communications through its Ministerial departments, the establishment of a team to negotiate a new Trinidad/Barbados agreement and the creation of a standing Committee on energy featuring the controversial Ken Julian. Mr. Manning also informed the Media that Cabinet had considered a note on the question of security in schools, which was referred to the Finance and General Purposes Committee and which is expected to be examined on Monday. But not a single word on the fate of Caroni Ltd. Why hasn't the Caroni issue gone before the Finance and General Purposes Committee of Cabinet.

Only two weeks ago the Minister of Agriculture had indicated to the Union that the issue would be forwarded to the relevant Cabinet Committee, but since then no information has been forthcoming. It seems therefore that the Government is yet to conceptualize a formal policy on Caroni Ltd. The Manning Government has expeditiously addressed every other issue of national importance and even those that appear not to be of equal significance. Yet Caroni Ltd. has once again been unceremoniously shoved on the sideline.

From political sensationalism and hysteria to an inexplicable silence, the Government's treatment of the stakeholders in the Industry suggests that the Cabinet is either functionally incapable of dealing with the issue or they have chosen deliberately to ignore it.

From the Union's perspective, the Government's agenda which appears to be highly discriminatory in orientation and practice, has begun to test the patience of the thousands of people who continue on a daily basis to struggle to sustain a livelihood through the Industry. The Union has always had a responsibility towards sugar workers and it is a responsibility it is not prepared to shirk as it seeks to ensure that these workers are duly recognized as equal citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.