Tuesday, July 23, 2002


Press Release : July 23rd 2002

President General of the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union (ATS&GWTU) Rudranath Indarsingh has said Government's proposed VSEP offer by month's end for Caroni workers is false and totally misleading.

Dismissing statements made by the Minister of Agriculture John Rahael in a Sunday Express article (July 21) "In the Hot Seat" - Indarsingh told sugar workers not to be unduly alarmed by the Minister's remarks.

"No VSEP package can be agreed upon for Caroni workers without consultation with the majority bargaining body for workers," Indarsingh said.

Pointing out that the Minister seemed unaware of the rudiments of the negotiating process, Indarsingh said Mr. Rahael needed "a lesson in proper industrial procedures."

The union leader's comments came, in response to a weekend newspaper article on the government's VSEP plan for Caroni, on his first day back on the job, following a brief illness.

"To say that Cabinet will decide by month's end on the VSEP package for Caroni workers was not only evidence of autocratic behaviour on the part of government but a very worrisome development in the context of healthy Industrial Relations practices," he said.

The union leader was also critical of several inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the newspaper article.

He pointed out that in one breadth the Minister admits to not having done a "head count" to ascertain the true employment needs of the company then goes on to say that "I am confident we will get the required number."

Indarsingh said the Minister had no authority to make such a statement without a manpower audit and analysis of the intricacies of the company's operations.

Contrary to claims made by the Minister, Indarsingh said the records will show that he (Indarsingh) became a member of the Caroni Board in mid 1999 and as far as he was aware none of the five Ministers (from the previous administration) had at anytime pressured Caroni to back off from implementing a VSEP package.

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