Sunday, November 25, 2012

Address by President General Nirvan Maharaj of the ATGWTU : on the occasion of the union 75th Anniversary.




Seventy-five years ago on this very day, The All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union, your Union, was registered, thereby laying the foundation for the development of an  institution, that to this very day continues to make a momentous and overwhelming contribution to the development of our beloved Trinidad and Tobago

But more significant is the fact, that this is an organisation which emerged out of the depths of unrelenting poverty, an organisation created to provide hope and sanctuary and a medium of change, in answer to the pleadings of a people facing harsh, terrible and oppressive conditions of life at that time.

Interestingly enough and based on the historical antecedents of the past, colonialism and slavery and indentureship, every single one of us sitting here today, if we go back far enough into our personal history, may very well find that at least one of our forefathers would have laboured in the fields of this nation, in cocoa, coffee, sugar, coconut and even peasant farming.

It is for this singular reason that the All Trinidad Union must be viewed by the national community and more so by you the membership as a sacred institution, a historical symbol, containing a personal part of every single one of us, who are here today, simply because, when sugar became king, and Europe demanded more, our forefathers were brought here to labour in the plantation fields of the new world.

And so you must never forget that this Union, your Union was moulded and shaped by the struggles of the past, a union built on the sacrifice, the sweat, the toil and the tears of our forefathers as they attempted to create a life out of the cane fields to which they first came.

You must never forget, the battles fought in the sugar industry, more so in 1934 when 15 thousand sugar workers downed tools throughout the sugar industry and protested, and demonstrated and demanded better working conditions. Men and women who were not afraid to challenge the might of the colonial authorities, in order to ensure a future for their children and the generations to come.

You must never forget 1937 when oil and sugar united as a formidable force, Indians and Africans uniting together to challenge the might of the colonial dragon.

You must never forget more recently, 1975, when oil and sugar united again, in the march for bread, peace and justice. When our African and Indian brothers marched hand in hand, demanding better living and working conditions, and together faced the tear gas, bullets and batons of the police force unleashed against them by the then PNM government.

The membership of this Union must never forget, that in every, struggle, every battle fought on behalf of the working class of this nation, the All Trinidad was always a part of that struggle.

You must never forget the good we have achieved, the contributions made, the struggles, the sacrifices, the battles fought and the victories won.

Never forget that as strange as it may seem to us today, there was a time in this nation of ours when men were willing to fight and die for causes and nothing more. When men genuinely believed in the concept of equality and brotherhood and were willing to sacrifice themselves so that the people of this nation could have a better life.

You must never forget the struggles fought and the battles won, because if you do, then you become complacent and the rights and privileges you now enjoy, that which your forefathers would have fought for and laid the foundation for that which is due to you, which you earned by your sweat and your toil, that which was not won overnight, but took many daunting years to achieve, could be easily taken away from you through the disguise of legality and reform and restructuring and policy and nice promises.

You see brothers and sisters, the struggle is not over, the struggle will always exist, because the working class of this nation will always have to fight, and beg, and protest and demonstrate, for the rights that are due to them.

You have to fight for better wages, you have to fight against 5 %, you have to fight for a better working environment, you have to fight against technocrats implementing economic policies without taking into consideration the adverse social and economic consequences on you.

You have to fight for labour reform, even though there are so called representatives of the labour movement in Government. Every single tangible benefit the working class has ever gained in this nation, You have had to fight for it. Worst than this, is that you have to fight against those who are supposed to be representing your interest.

In fact these same people who walked side by side with you and who having now attained political office suddenly realise that the main purpose for being a member of parliament or a minister, is nothing more than an opportunity to buy a black Prado with tinted glass and a driver to open their door and carry the food they would take away after attending official functions.

It has become so ridiculous, obscene and vulgar, that Government officials and Members of Parliament, expect to be praised and thanked for paving a road, building a box drain or providing water to a community. They expect you to go down on your knees and thank them for doing their job, for doing what they are paid to do in the first place.

There is no doubt that Labour has again been betrayed by those who profess to have labour at heart. And in order for labour to deal with this betrayal, there must be unity on the labour front. Trade Unions must unite together; we must become a band of brothers united together in a common cause. We cannot and will never succeed if we continue to allow petty differences to take precedent over the good of this nation.

Labour will always fail if we continue to sacrifice the interest of the working class on the altar of pettiness and political expediency. Labour must never have to depend on gifts or handouts from any politician or political party.

We must remember that we are the representatives of the struggles of our forefathers as they tried to forge a society from the cane fields to which they first came and the time has come when we the labour movement must say enough is enough.

The time has come to stand up and say whatever it takes we are going to protect what is ours that we will decide what is to be done with the legacy that was left to us by the sweat of our fathers and our ancestors. You did not beg anybody for the rights and privileges you enjoy, nobody did you a favour, this was not a gift, this is what you earned and worked for, and this is due to you.

We must therefore demand what is ours, we must demand our due, we must demand our rights, we must be united in battle and when we speak we must speak with the legitimacy of thousands of workers whom we represent.

Today I make a plea, I appeal to the leaders of the Trade Union Movement, I appeal to Natuc, I appeal to Fitun, I appeal to the joint trade union movement, l appeal to the Independent trade unions, let us meet together at the table of brotherhood, let us forge a new direction, let us begin afresh to chart a pathway of labour unity never before seen in this nation.

Let us create a labour lobby as powerful as any political party. So that never again in this nation will any Minister of Government be so bold as to tell labour to wine to the side. Let us unite for if we don’t we shall perish.

I will even go so far as to say, perhaps the time has come for the Trade union movement, to embark upon a struggle to change the psych of our people, to change the consciousness of our people, to change from a culture of mediocrity to a culture based of fairness, equality and justice. Our struggles must never be selective, what is good for one must be good for all.

Perhaps the time has come for the trade union movement to begin the process of educating our people, of teaching them, that Ministers and Members of Parliament are nothing more than persons holding on to a job.

That they are public servants, that their duty and responsibility is to serve you the people, not the people serving them. How terrible an injustice to our society, when you have Ministers and Members of Parliament, without an original idea, without, independent thought, without logic or rational, some who can’t even string a proper sentence together or write a proper essay, some who do not even have the decency to respond to their constituents, but yet expecting you the people to honour them.

Truly the time has come for the Trade Union Movement to begin the process of breaking the shackles of mental bondage that makes us believe that elections and parliament are only about Party politics.

Maybe just maybe, the time has come, for us to recreate the age of the Independent candidate as an option to the mockery that passes as candidate selection for constituencies.

Win lose or draw, why can’t the Trade Union movement begin the symbolic gesture of putting up candidates in any constituency it may so choose. Why can’t the All Trinidad put up a candidate in Couva north or Couva south, why can’t OWTU put up a candidate in Point Fortin or Point a Pierre or the PSA in Bon Air/ Lopinot or Malony /La Horquetta.

As Trade Union leaders we cannot continue to sit on the sideline and allow party politicians to take this nation, our nation, into a dark abyss of no return.

This is our nation and we must decide if we are going to be part of the problem or part of the solution. I say, this very day that the trade union movement must charge itself with the responsibility of creating a new political dispensation for the people of our beloved nation.

We as leaders of civil society must never again allow ourselves to sustain a system based on exploitation, favouritism, racism, discrimination and nepotism. We must challenge both sides of the divide and demand change. If we don’t then history will never forgive us.

Today comrades the All Trinidad face many battles, as the general secretary would have indicated to you, because of the historical dynamics of the past, the All Trinidad still has a residual interest in the affairs of the Ex-Caroni employees and as such must play it’s part in any issue affecting the Ex-Caroni workers.

The appeal against the Deyalsingh Judgement by the former regime was withdrawn by this government, yet after two and a half years this government is unable to fulfil its promise to the ex-Caroni workers. In fact you have a Minister of food production and a Minister of Housing who have basically refused to meet with the All Trinidad to discuss the plight of these workers.

This chap, this Minister of Food Production, Devant Maharaj has with utter audacity and impunity, treated the Ex-Caroni workers with total disdain and contempt, by refusing to meeting with us to discuss the difficulties facing these workers.

This is the same Minister, Devant Maharaj, who when 17 workers of Caroni Ltd 1975 was viciously, and callously fired on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of our Independence, he had to gall to say no one was fired, when we produced the letters of termination to the media, he buried his head in the sand and to this date, total silence from him on this issue.

But we have not forgotten, and we will deal with this issue when the time is just right and in due course.

We have not forgotten that by it’s very actions, this Government seems intent on deliberately frustrating the ex-Caroni workers, it seems intent on making it impossible for these workers, to effectively take possession of the lands that is legally due to them,. In fact if after 10 years 25% percent of the provisions of the VSEP package with regard to land development and distribution have taken place then that is plenty.

Yet the Government is seeking to go to Guyana to engage in agriculture, while turning a blind eye to the plight of the farmers and cane farmers and ex- Caroni workers in Trinidad and Tobago.

It is my view, as though the Government is intent on undermining and destroying the small farmers in Trinidad and Tobago, destroying a way of life for thousands of our people or simply to make their technocrats and advisors many of whom probably never even planted a head of lettuce or a tomato tree their life, feel as though they are working for their days pay.
I want to point out one thing to the Government,

Section 59 of the Deyalsingh judgment states) It understands that such an exercise will take some time to be finalized. But is understands too, that Government has the power and the capacity to expedite the process if it so desires. The exercise was after all, in the hands of a Ministerial Committee, a Land Use Planning Team, Caroni and the EMBDC, the latter two being wholly owned State-owned Companies.

Page 38

61) On the facts and in all the circumstances of this case, I find that the promise to the former sugar workers has not been kept and that their legitimate expectation has been and is being frustrated by the lack of reasonably expeditious action.
62) Government’s lack of the sense of urgency with this matter warranted is in my view, tantamount to an abuse of power.

The Order

98) There will therefore, be judgement for the Applicant as follows:
(a) A Declaration that the Respondents have deprived the former sugar workers of Caroni (1975) Ltd. who
Are eligible, of their legitimate expectation to have
Agricultural plots and/or residential lots conveyed to
them by way of lease.

(b) A Mandatory Order that the Respondents, soon or
before 30th June 2008, grant leases to the said
Workers of

(i) 2-acre agricultural plots with all proper
Infrastructure including access, drainage and
Irrigation facilities to each plot.

(ii) 1-lot residential lots with all proper
Infrastructure including access, water and
electricity to each lot.

Why is the Government following in the footsteps of the former regime and showing contempt for the Deyalsingh Judgment. What is the sinister plot, is it that they are planning to go to Guyana to engage in agriculture, while placing all of our lands in the Ministry of Housing so that prime agricultural lands could be used for Housing.

Does the Government and those who make decisions involving the agriculture sector believe that in a food shortage, we the citizens of this nation, will be content to eat glass, and concrete and paint and steel.

I am therefore calling upon the Government to do what is right, to do what is just, to do what is fair and seek to ease the dilemma facing the ex-Caroni workers and the farmers of this nation as a whole.

I say to the Government that you must understand that the people are waiting, the people from the plantation fields upon whose backs you would have stood, whose backs today provide the foundation upon which you stand, they are waiting.

Remember always that any people, no matter how docile, no matter how passive, no matter how humble, if pushed to far, if they are betrayed by those whom they trusted to seek their interest, if they feel hopeless and spurned, especially by those who they supported, they may very well react in a way not expected of them. They may very well withhold their support, loyalty and allegiance, in order that it is never again taken for granted.

Comrades there are so many battles and so little time, when I became President General Of this Union I vowed that never again will the All Trinidad be used and abused by anyone, especially politicians, who pretend to be friends with this Union in order to serve their own ends.

For I know that as the social, political and economic dynamics of our society changed, so to did our union and in order to adapt to the different circumstances, today a union born out of the blood of sugar, represent workers in every sector of this nation. And of that we are extremely proud.

And when I examined our society I knew that as a people we are the collective totality of our shared experiences and circumstances going back over 500 hundred years in the Caribbean. We must therefore reclaim our history, so that the heroes of the past will continue to be the heroes of our children and if we cannot depend on the authorities then we must do so ourselves. You see the history of a people is the history of its heroes.

When I examined our society I am certain that our forefathers are weeping for Trinidad & Tobago. They weep for our ignorance, arrogance, forgetfulness and our lost innocence. They lament that we have forgotten the lessons of our past, that the concepts of brotherhood community neighbourhood, morals values and the oneness that made us who we are, today seems to have faded into oblivion.

The heroes of the past, the simple and not so simple people, those who were willing to give their lives for change are weeping. Those who toiled and sacrificed, so we could enjoy the fruits of their labour, they weep, because we fail to understand or appreciate the battles fought in the towns and villages, the streets and fields of long ago. We are betraying our forefathers.

They weep for the young men in the killing fields of the northern hills. They lament for the sons and daughters, kidnapped and brutalized. They watch as the lives of so many are ruined and constantly washed away by the floodwaters now affecting the whole of this nation. Shuddering in disbelief, the ancestors wonder at the housing settlements in prime agricultural land and the destruction of the hills.

Comrades our forefathers are weeping for a land fertilized by the blood of the indigenous peoples, the slaves, the indentures, the labour leaders gone before us, blood seemingly now to have been shed in vain.

It is for this reason that I again say to the leaders of the Trade Union Movement let us unite, we do not have to go to war or fight to express our discontent, we do not have to shed blood to stand up for our rights, we simply have to unite as a people, as leaders of civil society and send a message, we must ask ourselves what weakness is this, that we cannot see. Where indeed have our spirit as a people gone.

There are times when lines of demarcation must be removed and political, racial, ethnic, and class differences must give way to the good of the country. And we must ask where are the descendents of those who struggled in the Camboulay Riots, who faced the wrath of the colonial authorities in the Jahagee Massacre, who took part in the Water Riots, those who protested and demonstrated in the 1934 and 1937 Riots, where indeed are the descendents of those who were willing to face death in 1970 and others who faced tear gas, bullets and batons in 1975.

If we open a quarrel between the past and present we would find that we have lost the future. It imperative that the Trade Union Movement reclaim the legacy that was left to it and redefine itself as a pillar of working class struggle and as a check and balance on politicians gone mad.

Comrades, one can speak for hours about the difficulties we face as a people and the solutions needed.

Yet I must start first with the All Trinidad, I cannot call upon you to change if we ourselves are not willing to and so to my members I say, as we travel along a pathway forged from the callous dissolution of the Sugar Industry and carved by the social, political and economic dynamics of an ever changing society, we must create a new dispensation in order to successfully adapt to an environment without sugar and triumph over obstacles both present and future.

After the loss of ten thousand members with the closure of the sugar industry, my vision is to rebuild and place this Union on a sound footing and even with limited resources to be pro active and initiate the process of once again making the All Trinidad a bastion of working class struggle. My goal is to regain this Union its rightful place at the National level, with the respect and prominence due to it.

Dear Comrades, It should always be our intention to pursue as vigorously as possible, the mandate of seeking the interest of our membership and ameliorating the working and living conditions of every worker in this country. We must strive to ensure that every man, woman and child in this nation is afforded equality, fair play and justice before the law and before the institutions that govern our society.

Under my stewardship this union must once again become a watchdog on the society, involving itself in issues of national importance and any other matters affecting the society in an adverse way. It is also essential that we struggle to maintain and ensure the integrity and Independence of this Union, and not to be tied down by historical political ties real or imagined.

I wish to openly praise the Central Executive and General Council Members for taking the initiative to serve their Union and by extension the Nation. At their own level, they have  committed to making a difference and protecting the rights of their colleagues. They are indeed leaders in their own right, with little reward, but the knowledge and contentment that they are helping to make a difference.

To the general Membership, I say thank you, for your continuous support and dedication to this Union, which belongs to all of us, more so you the membership without whom there could be no union.

We must always seek to conduct ourselves in a manner so as to ensure that the heroes of the past, those who toiled and sacrificed so we could enjoy the fruits of their labour, did not do so in vain and we must be very vigilant, for that which was earned by sweat and tears could be easily eroded by silent and gradual encroachment.

I therefore appeal to you my comrades to strive to make a difference; do not allow the idealism, fire and passion of your youth to be extinguished by the lies, half-truths and innuendos of those who will seek to undermine this union and the labour movement for their own ends. In spite of the many challenges facing us, let us together continue to maintain the pride and dignity of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union.

Today our union can stand tall, stand firm and stand proud as a national institution that played a vital role in helping to shape the very fabric, the very essence of what we know today as Trinidad and Tobago.

Yours is a union comrades that at 75 years, have stood the test of time, and stood strong, even when it faced it darkest hour, with the end of sugar.

And though the soothsayers and doomsayers predicted our demise, we are still here today, tough and sturdy, still representing the interest of those we serve.

Remember always that the solutions to our difficulties and the answers to our questions, lie not in the hands of others, we cannot depend on and hope for others to solve our problems, these things lie in our own hands, we have to get up and say what we want, and demand that we be heard and seek our own interest.

I therefore urge you to join with me in rebuilding and restoring the All Trinidad General  Workers Trade Union to its rightful place as a major contributor to the holistic development of Trinidad and Tobago.

Let us always be guided by the principle that only in unity can there be strength and let us understand and every single time you stand up for an ideal, or act in such a way as to help others, or strike a blow against injustice, you create a movement of ideas and actions that can build a tsunami that could sweep away mightiest walls of oppression and exploitation.


My Comrades, at times the task ahead seems daunting, I remember one day I said to Mr. Jaglal, “John it is not easy, at times I stand alone, I cannot please everyone, everything I do is under scrutiny and the buck stops with me, at times the burden of leadership is overwhelming”

John replied to me and I thank him most sincerely for what he said to me, He said, Pg, even when you are alone, you are never alone, you walk with destiny, you walk with the leaders who have gone before you and you walk with the legacy and the spirits of thousands of people who would laboured and fought and died for the struggle, you are never alone. I thank you John

Dear Comrades, I want to assure you, that the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union will be firm and unwavering, we shall not be daunted, we shall not fail or falter, we shall not abandon you, I assure you that we will continue to stand by you, we will struggle with you, we will fight with you and we will never turn our backs on you.

All I ask of you is to help me to help us and by extension the nation.

As Winston Churchill would have said let us do our duty and conduct ourselves in such a manner that if the All Trinidad Union should last for a thousand years, men will still say that this day, this new journey, was it’s finest hour.

Let us begin this journey together, let unite together, let us work together to safeguard the future of our nation and our children for generations to come.

Long live the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union,
Long live the struggle for, peace, for justice and for equality,
I thank you, may god bless

Friday, October 26, 2012

Courtesy Call by H.E. Ambassador Humberto Rivero Rosario on the ATGWTU President Nirvan Maharaj

Ambassador Humberto Rivero Rosario greets
the ATGWTU President Nirvan Maharaj
Today, October 26th 2012, a Courtesy Call by H.E. Ambassador Humberto Rivero Rosario on the ATGWTU President Nirvan Maharaj occurred at Rienzi Complex. The Ambassador arrived at Rienzi Complex 1:00pm and was greeted by the President General Nirvan Maharaj where the two spoke for 20 minutes in the President General's office.

Shortly afterwards , the Ambassador and President General spoke to the ATGWTU executive and staff in the conference room. Where the ambassador spoke of the long history and relationship of the Labour movement and the people's struggle of Cuba. In response , the executive spoke of their travels to Cuba and their work with the Friends of Cuba & the Trinidad and Tobago Cuba Solidarity groups.

10th November 2012
Then the Ambassador told the attentive groups of the upcoming events of the International Movement of Solidarity with Cuba and the Embassy of Cuba. A fundraiser to be held at November 10th 2012, at the OWTU Headquarters, Circular Road, San Fernando, starting at noon til 4:00pm .

The fundraiser will take the form of a luncheon , with Cuban Cuisine on sale . Roasted Pork, Black Beans, Rice, Cassava & Green Salad. Fish would be available on request in advance.

President General Nirvan Maharaj , pledged the purchase of 15 tickets and contribution of Cassava and Sweet Potato from the membership of the ATGWTU .

Meeting the Executive and Staff of ATGWTU

Ambassador Humberto Rivero Rosario of Cuba to Trinidad & Tobago
the ATGWTU President Nirvan Maharaj

Monday, October 22, 2012

Union leader: I never spoke with Hinds

Story Created: Oct 22, 2012 at 10:00 PM ECT

Story Updated: Oct 22, 2012 at 10:00 PM ECT 

PRESIDENT general of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union Nirvan Maharaj issued a statement yesterday denying he ever spoke with or met People's National Movement (PNM) Senator Fitzgerald Hinds.
Maharaj said he was owed an apology by Hinds. Hinds told the Senate last Wednesday that three members of the board of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) had resigned because "they could no longer take the mismanagement and rubbish taking place there".
However, Maharaj stated: "I am still at a loss to understand the impunity with which Mr Hinds could call my name in Parliament and in so doing impute statements on my behalf, when the truth is I have never spoken to or even met Mr Hinds in my life."
He stated: "I am shocked and appalled that members of this country's legislative arm in the Upper House could so blatantly violate the concept of Parliamentary privilege and in so doing engage in an abuse of parliamentary process. I emphatically deny ever speaking to Mr Hinds as to the reasons I would have resigned as the director of the ADB board."

Friday, September 28, 2012

BBQ by the Women's Auxiliary Group

on a well executed Event by the Women's Auxiliary Group
Bar-B-Que by the Women's Auxiliary Group : September 28th 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

PRESS CONFERENCE : Monday 17th September, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen
Good morning

Let me again thank each of you for being here today, and for allowing us to respond to statements made by the Minister of Food Production as reported in the Guardian of the 13th and the Express and Newsday of the 14th September, 2012.

Ladies and Gentlemen the All Trinidad is extremely saddened and it is with a heavy heart that we speak to you today. We cannot believe and is in fact shocked at the response of the Minister, instead of seeking a meeting with the All Trinidad, instead of even picking up the phone and asking “Gentlemen what is the problem, what are the facts”. The minister goes on the defensive and immediately denies that anyone was terminated.

I cannot say whether the Minister has been deliberately misinformed or whether the Minister was inadvertently misinformed, by his advisers and those surrounding him.

I will simply respond as the facts before me indicate.

The Minister stated as reported in the newspapers that no one was terminated or should we say fired. Ladies and Gentlemen I have in my possession 21 letters of termination that was received by these workers dated 28th August, 2012, to take effect on 31ST August, 2012. I am willing to provide these letters to the Minister if he so desires, in order to allow the goodly Minister clarification on this issue.

The Termination letter reads as follows. We refer to your employment with the Company in the Tenancy Regularisation Project and advise that the project will end on August 31st 2012.
Your employment with the Company will therefore be terminated on August 31st 2012.
We take this opportunity to thank you for your dedicated service with the Company and wish you all the best for the future. Signed Deosaran Jagroo (Chief Executive Officer)
The Union will assume at this point that the Minister was not made privy to this letter and as such he should be questioning those around him as to why not.

The Minister indicated in his statement as reported, that the first phase of the Tenancy Regularisation Project has come to an end. Although we are informed that this is not totally true.

It must also be noted that The Tenancy Regularisation Project has three phases; as such the termination letters issued to these workers are misleading and false since it states that the project has come to an end.

The Government needs to tell us whether the first phase is completed with the other phases to be soon implemented, or if the project itself has come to a premature end. If the project is not ended then the Minister must tell us why are these 21 workers who are employed in the first phase not allowed to continue working in the second and third phases?

The Minister also seems to have been also misinformed about the Special Land Delivery Programme of which he makes mention, since this is a separate and distinct project, which these workers simply assisted Caroni in, while substantively employed in the Tenancy Regularisation Project.

It seems as though the Minister is being misinformed by the advice he is receiving, advice which is designed to suppress the truth and so circumvent the relevant issue at hand, which is the brutal and callous retrenchment of these workers by the Government. In addition, the effect that this would have on the 4500 cane farmers of this nation

To date the Minister has not adequately responded regarding the second and third phases of this project.
He has indicated that a cabinet note for funding of the second phase of the project has been submitted for consideration. The Union is extremely concerned about the word consideration, which implies that the necessary funding may not be forthcoming, especially since funds have already been allocated by the European Union.

Several interesting facts must be noted:

On Feburary 9th 2012 the Express Newspaper reported that the European Union had already given to the Government 276.1 million TT Dollars.

It is also interesting to note that Trinidad and Tobago has continued to benefit from the European Union Grant, actually according to our information the Government has already drawn from the EU $247.7 million dollars with $157.23 million still available.

Several questions need to be asked:

Is there a deliberate move to end or frustrate the Tenancy Regularisation Project?
If the project is stopped will this be a breach of duty under the agreement with the EU?
If no time limit is given for implementing the second phase will this also be a breach of duty?
Is there an agenda to remove the Tenancy Regularisation Project from Caroni Limited and place it in the hands of another government agency?
Why were these workers treated with such disdain and contempt by the Government?
Will these workers be employed in the second and third phases of the project if or when implemented?
If it is the Governments intention to move this project to another government agency, will these fired workers be absorbed in the agency under the same terms and conditions they enjoyed before?
Why is the Government intent on pursuing the Special Land Delivery Project using former Caroni Limited lands, while blatantly neglecting and frustrating the cane farmers and Ex-Caroni workers, who should be given first preference?
Has the Government decided to embark on a policy of destroying small farmers in order to acquire their lands for reasons yet to be revealed?
Why is the Government following in the footsteps of the former regime and showing contempt for the Deyalsingh Judgment as per the Order on page 38 of said judgment?

Even before this issue a letter dated 18th July 2012, was sent to the Minister of food Production asking for a meeting to discuss several issues, to date a meeting has not been arranged.
If the Minister is too busy to meet on issues concerning the Ex-Caroni workers, or the retrenched workers or the cane farmers, then he needs to say so.

The All Trinidad Union is again saying to the Government, millions are being spent in all different types of activities, it is time to expeditiously settle all issues concerning the retrenched workers, the Cane farmers and ex-Caroni workers.

Any people no matter how docile or how passive will one day react, perhaps in a way not expected, when they become frustrated enough, when they can’t take it anymore and when they realise that those whom they trusted to seek their interest, are probably playing games of deceit and deception with them.

I said to the Government before and I will say it again, these terminated workers are waiting, the cane farmers are waiting, the ex-Caroni workers are waiting and most of all those who laboured in the plantation fields of this nation are waiting. Those who sacrificed and built and never depended on political patronage and handouts for survival, they too are waiting.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

TV6 : Coverage of Press Conference

TV6 : Coverage of Press Conference

CNMG Coverage

CNMG Coverage

PRESS CONFERENCE : Tuesday 11th September, 2012

Tuesday 11th SEPTEMBER, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning

First of all, I want to thank each of you for being here today, and for giving us the opportunity to highlight a matter that we consider to be of great urgency, an issue developing that the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union sees as having far reaching consequences, even nationally, if not expeditiously addressed and dealt with by the government.

Ladies and gentlemen about two days before this nation celebrated its 50th Independence Anniversary on August 28th, 2012; Twenty One (21) workers of Caroni 1975 Limited were callously and unceremoniously terminated from their employment with the company.
In the first instant, The Company without care and without following due process, obscenely violated the provisions of the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act 1985, Section 6 - the minimum period of formal notice required by section 4 shall be forty-five days before the proposed date of retrenchment, by which I mean there was no notice to the workers, no discussion, no consultation and no offers of alternative employment.

This harsh and oppressive action taken by Caroni Ltd a representative of the Government, is made even worst and adds to the further indictment of the government and those in authority, since these workers were engaged in the regularisation project of ensuring security of tenure for 4500 cane farmers of this nation, Cane farmers who are dependent on this project for the safety and security of knowing that the lands they would have laboured on for generations, cannot be taken away from them by the whim and fancies of anybody.

The funding for this project would have come from the approximately 400 million dollars given to the government of Trinidad and Tobago for the development and implementation of policies designed to give comfort and provide alternative sources of income to these cane farmers since the shut down of the Sugar Industry.

As such we therefore have two issues that are enmeshed together:
(1) the violation of the labour laws of Trinidad and Tobago by the harsh and oppressive termination of these workers
(2) the direct impact and negative consequences of this action on 4500 cane farmers who were dependant on these workers and the project they were engaged in, for security of tenure and comfort of knowing that they were regularised on the lands they have occupied for so long.

Our information is that no additional funding was allotted for the second phase of this regularisation project which has three phases. Even the full amount of funding that was needed for the first phase was not allocated. Yet this is monies that were given to the Government specifically to deal with issues facing the cane farmers.

What is telling and even more strange is that this was an ongoing project of such a vital nature and a cabinet note requesting funding for the second phase though supplied to the ministry and reviewed by ministry officials, never reached cabinet. Perhaps it was a deliberate or perhaps it was an oversight, I don’t know. I prefer not to draw conclusions based on mere speculation and assumption.

Our Union is extremely concerned, since while it attempts to assist the Ex-Caroni workers in acquiring their 2 acre and residential plots, many of which after so many years are still outstanding, with poor infrastructural works, lack of access roads, persons having paid for lots over five years now and still to receive them, persons still not even allocated plots as yet, others being allocated lands miles away from where they live, persons allocated has been dislocated and yet to be re-allocated and numerous other problems still to be addressed.

So in addition to the problems facing the Ex-Caroni workers as they attempt to access that which is legally due to them, not a gift or a privilege but a legal entitlement as per the VESEP package and the Deyalsingh Judgment, we have this situation with the cane farmers project arising.

Worst than this and even more frightening and confusing and blatantly revealing is the fact that while many Ex-Caroni workers are still suffering to get what is their legal right, while the Cane farmers security of tenure is now threatened, the government is continuing to pursue a project of land divestment to other persons who are not in the first two categories. So ex Caroni workers still to get land, cane farmers still to be regularised, but you are giving away land without a thought. A total insult to the ex-Caroni workers and contempt for the Deyalsingh Judgment, and a further insult to the Cane farmers

Someone in authority needs to tell us where is the EU money given to the Government for the singular purpose of dealing with the issues relating to Cane Farmers? Why these funds are not disbursed to the implementing agency for the regularisation of the cane farmers, but funding is instead made available for the land divestment programme.

The Union is calling upon the Government through the relevant line Ministers in Housing, Food Production and Finance to immediately address and resolve this issue, before a travesty and an injustice of colossal magnitude becomes a reality for these Cane farmers and also we must not forget the Ex-Caroni workers.

The purpose of this Press Conference is to bring to light the violations by this government of these 21 workers, to put the 4,500 cane farmer on notice that the project (Tenancy Regularisation Project) has stopped and to highlight that many Ex-Caroni (1975) workers are still suffering and waiting for the proper implementation of VESEP packages

Let us not forget that these are people who have laboured in the vineyards for many years making a productive contribution to our society
When I think of this issue ladies and gentlemen I am reminded of the words of Sir Walter Scott, in I think it was his poem Marion, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”

We are therefore calling upon the government to do what is just and what is fair to the retrenched workers, the cane farmers and at the same time not to forget the dilemma facing the ex-Caroni workers.

The Government must understand that the people are waiting, these retrenched workers are waiting, the cane farmers are waiting, the ex-Caroni workers are waiting, and they must understand that the people from the plantation fields whose backs provided the foundation upon which they stand are waiting. Let those who have laboured in the vineyards enjoy the fruits of their labour.

We the Union would like to see workers treated fairly as stated under the Retrenchment & Severance Benefits Act, the Restart of Tenancy Regularisation Project, as money for all THREE Phase has been given to the T&T Government, Someone in authority to indicate where is the EU money given to the government for the singular purpose of dealing with the issues relating to cane farmers and to Indicate to the government that there are still Ex-Caroni Workers still suffering for the resolution of lands and V.E.S.E.P. packages

A few months ago we held a meeting with over 1000 ex Caroni workers, we shall be soon doing the same in order to report to these workers the progress made in addressing their issues with regard to the implementation of the VESEP package.

If necessary we shall meet with the Cane farming bodies to assist them in their struggle
We shall begin the industrial relations process of dealing with the issue of the retrenched workers.

I thank you ladies and gentlemen
Yours sincerely,

Nirvan Maharaj
President General

Friday, August 31, 2012

ATGWTU Independence Press Release


On behalf of the Central Executive, General Council and general membership All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union, I wish to extend my sincerest congratulations and best wishes to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, as we celebrate fifty years of independence.

Fifty years of Independence have seen us, as a nation achieve much in terms of infrastructural, political, economic, social and cultural development. Our people have accomplished so many great achievements in the realm of sports, science, law, education, music, social sciences and the humanities, that Trinidad and Tobago is now a household name in many parts of the world.

It is however quite easy, to fall into a delusionary state of celebratory rhetoric and by so doing become taken up with the superficial symbolic trappings of independence celebrations, while forgetting the monumental task that was required to begin the process and continuing today, of forging a nation out of the diversity that is ours.

We must always reflect on the struggles of the past and the sacrifices of our forefathers as they emerged out of the plantation fields to which they first came and sacrificed to carve a niche not only for themselves but also for us, in this land, that is Trinidad and Tobago. We must never do them the injustice of forgetting the battles fought, the tears shed and the victories won, to deliver unto us the land that we now enjoy.

Let us remember that ours is a nation built on the extermination of indigenous peoples, European conquest and rivalry, economic exploitation, cultural imperialism, a deliberate creolisation process emerging out of slavery and indentureship and the emergence of a diverse society, loosely based on physical and cultural differences, co-existing to form a unique Trinidadian and Tobagonian flavour, held together by the shared history of the plantation experience.

Slave trade, amelioration, emancipation, indentureship, the hosay riots, the camboulay riots, the numerous strikes and demonstrations, the water riots, the dock workers strike, the 1934 upheaval in sugar, 1937 riots, the changing dynamics of the 1960’s, the revolutions in thought and acts of 1970, bloody Tuesday 1975, significance events that created the nation we know today.

Fifty years after Independence let us continue to work together to construct a nation built on the principle of unity in diversity. Let us continue to strive to develop the will, the determination and the process necessary to increase the patriotism and nationalism necessary to bind us as a people and so truly to become one nation, one people that is Trinidad and Tobago.

I thank you.

Yours sincerely,


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

ATGWTU Emancipation Greetings

ATGWTU Emancipation Greetings

On behalf of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union, I wish to extend sincerest Emancipation greetings to the National Community and more so to the descendants of those who were at the core of a labour system based on human suffering and pain .

There is no dobut that the triumph of the human spirit, the determination of will and of human endeavour, are reflected in the continuous survival of those who moced from t he slavve forts on the West African Coast, to the Trans Atlantic passage, to the auction blocks and planation fields of the new world .

It is indeed a momentous achievement, that today generations after, the descendants have become an integrral part of the social, political, economic and cultural sphere of the societies to which their ancestors first came. Today I pay homaage too and send our deepest congratulations to those who would have risen from the blood of their ancestors to become equal partners in the process of nationhood and nation building .

Yours sincerely,


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

ATGWTU victorious in court

All Trinidad General Workers' Trade Union (ATGWTU) emerged victorious in the civil appeal against Rotiv Enterprises Ltd. on the 14th May, 2012 in the Court of appeal of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Union's case was conducted by advocate Attorney at Law, Mr. Dave Cowie, instructed by Attorney at law and Executive Member of the All Trinidad General Workers' Trade Union, Mr. Nirvan Maharaj.

President General of the ATGWTU stated: “It was a triumph once again by the Union for and on behalf of the working class citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.”

On June 10th, 2010, a judgment was made in the Industrial Court of Trinidad and Tobago where Rotiv Enterprises Ltd. was ordered to pay half a million dollars by 29th October, 2010 to 17 employees retrenched from the company in May, 2005. The company appealed the decision, which was heard in the Court of Appeal on Monday.

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