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.

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