Friday, February 22, 2002
ALL TRINIDAD FEELS VINDICATED
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.