Thursday, March 27, 2003


   T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

                   L A T I N   A M E R I C A

Thursday, March 27, 2003, Vol. 4, Issue 61

T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O

CARONI LTD.: Opposition Refuses To File Motion
The United National Congress refused to file a motion to start a debate on the Caroni issue, reports the Trinidad Guardian on Tuesday. The UNC was required to submit a motion on Monday to have it debated on Private Member's Day on Friday.

However, Trinidad and Tobago Agriculture Minister John Rahael was not surprised.

"The UNC's refusal to file the motion is exactly what we've been saying all the time. They do not want to discuss the issue; they want to create all sorts of red herrings without assessing the issue. Their plan was to shut down Caroni," said Mr. Rahael.

"I hope civil society will respond to their reaction. Friday is Private Members' Day, when the UNC can put forward its motions and we're prepared to debate it that day, " he added.

Couva South MP Kelvin Ramnath said, "As Government, they have a duty to file the motion. Until they do, they and the country can expect non-co-operation, total opposition on all Bills in both Houses, public marches and demonstrations. Parliament and the legislature will be on hold."

However, Mr. Ramnath made it clear that the Opposition will not file a motion.

"Government is clearly stalling on the matter to reach the April deadline for the VSEP. But we're not in any hurry. We'll maintain our position, especially where non-support of Bills is concerned," he said.

CONTACT:  Caroni Limited
          Old Southern Main Road, Caroni,
          Trinidad & Tobago
          Phone: (868) 663-1781 or 662-0879
          Fax: (868) 663-1404

          All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers' Trade Union
          Rienzi Complex
          Exchange Village
          Southern Main Road, Couva.
          President: Mr. Boysie Moore-Jones
          General Secretary: Mr. Rudranath Indarsingh
          Tel. 868-636-2354
          Fax. 868-636-3372
          E-mail: update atgwtu(at)

CARONI LTD.: Workers' Union Gets Support From Other Unions
The All Trinidad Sugar General Workers' Trade Union (ATSGWU) received support from various unions all over the world concerning the plight of its members who work for Trinidad and Tobago state sugar company, Caroni (1975), Ltd.

Caroni offered 9,000 of its workers the Voluntary Separation of Employment Plan (VSEP) in the course of its restructuring.

ATSGWU received solidarity letters from the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers' Union (GAWU) and the International Union of Food Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Association of Switzerland, reports the Trinidad Express on Tuesday.

The European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT) even appealed to Prime Minister Patrick Manning to hold a "meaningful" dialogue with the union.

EFFAT general secretary Harald Wieldenhofer said, "We strongly regret that the VSEP, a key element of the restructuring of Caroni Ltd, was produced without the participation of the union, especially if you take into account that 8,000 workers are affiliated to the ATSGWTU."

Mr. Wieldenhofer conceded that Caroni needed to be restructured to adapt to the globalized sugar industry, and be more efficient in using natural resources. However, he added, "the future of the sugar industry in Trinidad depends on the full and democratic participation of all stakeholders in the decisions that will
shape the industry itself."

He recommends that Mr. Manning should discuss Caroni's restructuring with the unions.