Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nirvan Maharaj on 2013 December 8th

ATGWTU Mass Meeting

Monday, December 2, 2013

ATGWTU : Mass Meeting

All Trinidad General Workers’ Trade Union in collaboration with the Former Cane Farmers Association and the Sugar Boilers Association of Trinidad and Tobago are inviting all Ex-Caroni workers, Cane Farmers and their families to a mass meeting to be held at the Rienzi Complex on Sunday 8th December, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

The theme of the meeting shall be the continuing betrayal of the Ex-Caroni workers, Cane Farmers and their families more than ten years after the callous and brutal shutdown of the Sugar Industry.
Issues to be discussed shall be:
  1. The outstanding lease and land distribution of two acre agricultural plots and Residential lots to Ex-Caroni workers
  2. Outstanding cash compensation to be paid to Cane Farmers for economic losses
  3. The Breach of the Deyalsingh Judgment by previous and present Government
  4. The Caroni Green Initiative and the effect on small farmers of Trinidad and Tobago
  5. The sweetener Loan
The meeting is open to former cane farmers, Caroni (1975) Ltd employees and their families.
The main speakers include;
  • Basdeo Panday on the issues of governance
  • Nirvan Maharaj on the land distribution exercise and the Caroni Green Initiative
  • Thomas Sotillio on the Cane Farmers Issue
  • Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj on the issues facing the Cane Farmers
  • Rakeeb Mohammed on the Sweetener Loan
  • Mikela Panday on the youth perspective
For more information about this event, call Thomas Sotillio at 712-0025 or Nirvan Maharaj at 725-0403
All Media are invited.

Monday, November 11, 2013


The All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union wishes to express its utmost disappointment, apprehension and sadness at the continuous disdain and contempt shown to the Ex-Caroni workers by this Peoples Partnership Government, especially with regard to the Caroni Green Initiative. More so in light of the fact that earlier this year the Government would have requested of the All Trinidad Union a proposal by which Union could assist in expediting the land distribution process for the residential and agricultural plots and also in assisting the Caroni Green project in a manner beneficial to the ex-Caroni worker. Needless to say, the Unions proposal was flatly rejected by Caroni (1975) Ltd and by certain government Ministers, as being too costly, even though the Union was being asked to do the job of several state agencies. In any event the rest is history.
The Union though agreeing that on a theoretical basis, that all things being equal, the Caroni Green Initiative is a good idea, the practical implementation is fraught with difficulties and leaves a lot to be desired, more so, the fact that in its present form it is working to the total detriment of the Ex-Caroni worker. In addition the basic premise, upon which the Green Initiative is based, is filled with deliberate misinformation and blatant untruths as per the Caroni Two Acre plots and the Ex-Caroni Workers position within the Green Initiative.
As such, The All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union is calling upon the Prime Minister to conduct an immediate investigation into the Caroni Green Initiative for the following reasons:
  1. An Investigation to determine whether the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago, by Cabinet Minute No.449 of February 21st, 2013 was deliberately misled by representatives of Caroni (1975) Limited and in so doing caused the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to make decisions and subsequently further decisions, concerning the Caroni Green Initiative, based on false information, designed to work to the detriment of the Ex-Caroni worker.
As stated in said Cabinet Minute:
Cabinet having noted that:
  1. Of the approximately 7,000 2-acre agricultural plots leased to former employees of Caroni (1975) limited (Caroni) (Minute No. 352 of February 12, 2003 refers), to date less than 5% is in active cultivation; ………………….
The Union wishes to indicate in no uncertain terms, that it is a fabrication to allege that 7000 plots were leased to Ex-Caroni workers since to date, only 2003 leases have been given out to the Ex-Caroni Workers for their two acre plots, while there are over 5000 Ex-Caroni workers still waiting over 10 years for their promised leases.
The ex- Caroni workers were given licenses to occupy and cultivate, which meant that the Ex-Caroni Workers were denied security of tenure and perhaps deliberately denied the opportunity to use the land as security for loans to help develop their plots. The Cabinet Note was therefore either deliberately or inadvertently misleading.

It is therefore a gross misrepresentation and a blatant lie for the Representatives of Caroni (1975) limited to indicate to Cabinet that less than 5% of the Ex-Caroni Workers were cultivating their plots when in fact nothing was put in place as per the Deyalsingh Judgment of 2008 for such cultivation to take place.
In fact in most places there is a Lack of road crossings, inadequate water, limited and no access to plots, no irrigation systems, plots existing miles away from where people live, flooding, larceny and ex-Caroni workers hindered by neglect and a lack of support and what may seemingly be a conspiracy by Caroni Ltd and persons in Government to deliberately frustrate them into giving up their lands for a mere pittance.

A Tour of Felicity for example, indicated that in spite of a lack of infrastructural development and an almost total lack of drainage, crossings, ponds, etc, there were many Ex-Caroni workers who faced the difficulties and challenges and though abandoned by Caroni (1975) Ltd and the government, attempted and continues to this day, to work their two acre plots.

It is therefore a deliberate misrepresentation in light of the extenuating circumstances i.e. Lack of leases and infrastructural work, for the Representatives of Caroni (1975) Limited to claim that less than 5% of the Agricultural Plots are being cultivated.
In addition it is very interesting that the Government was willing to facilitate Caroni (1975) Ltd and now a Caroni Green Initiative Company with funds to assist in the development of the plots for contracted private farmers but are unable release funds for the development of the said lands for the Ex-Caroni worker.

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.

As it stands Government through its Agencies are in breach of the Deyalsingh Judgment as little or no infrastructural work was done to facilitate the Ex-Caroni Workers having access to, and being able to adequately develop their plots.
In fact:

It is interesting to note also that like the original plan for Caroni (1975) Ltd this new Company is simply acting as a facilitator acquiring lands from the Ex-Caroni workers and placing said lands in the hands of private farmers with a view to profit maximisation not for the Ex-Caroni worker but for the private farmer and the Company.


Caroni (1975) Ltd was offering and we presume that the new company will continue to offer the Ex-Caroni Workers the pathetic and almost laughable sum of about $1800.00 per year for their Two Acre Plot. This amounts to $ 150.00 per month for a two acre plot or simply $75.00 per month for one acre of land. If this was not such a serious situation and a symbol of the terrible treatment meted out to the Ex-Caroni worker by this government, then it would be comical.

The union is asserting that every ex-Caroni worker who forgives the government for failing in its duty in developing these plots for the use of the ex-Caroni worker and voluntary agrees to partake in the Caroni green initiative, once all problems are dealt with, should be paid a rental sum of $14,500.00 per year, for the two acre plots. This would translate to $1200.00 per month for the two acre plot or about $600.00 per month per acre.

Based on the projected profits of the green initiative, this is a highly reasonable figure that will allow the ex-Caroni worker to at least enjoy some margin of income from his two acre plot, since the government itself would have failed to provide the proper medium as per the Deyalsingh for the worker to do so.

In lieu of this rental figure, as the Government would have done with the Two Acre Plots that reverted to the State for the construction of the University in Debe, each worker should be paid $140,000.00 for the Two Acre Plot and let it revert back to the State to use as the State sees fit.

Projected profits per harvest (it must be noted that more than one harvest may take place per year) of the Green Initiative are as follows:



























The Union is also very concerned about the willingness of the Government to facilitate Caroni(1975) Limited with 4 million dollars to begin what is private enterprise and profit maximisation project, while monies were not allocated for the development of proper infrastructure for the Ex-Caroni Workers or for the expediting of the leases for the Ex-Caroni Workers.
On this same note the Union is questioning information that it received that Cabinet approved 4 million for this project but the cost so far to for the project has amounted to 11 million dollars and if this is indeed so, Caroni (1975) limited needs to indicate where did the extra 7 million dollars for this private enterprise project come from.
The Union also wishes to express it’s deepest concern over the following issues:
  1. The Government’s intention to shut down Caroni (1975) Ltd, even while there is a High Court Judgment against Caroni (1975) Ltd and a Mandatory Court Order for the Distribution of Residential Lots and Two Acre Plots with proper infrastructural development to the Ex-Caroni workers that has not yet been fulfilled or completed. The Government must ensure that the over 5000 ex-Caroni workers who are still to access the legal right to a two acre plot and residential lot are not adversely affected by this decision. In fact we are calling on the government to desist from this closing Caroni until the provisions of the VESEP package are implemented.
  2. The allegation that after failing miserably to adequately deal with the provisions of the VESEP package in regard to land distribution, that the past CEO of Caroni was about to be dismissed for misconduct and instead was made the CEO of the Caroni Green Initiative Company.
  3. The allegation that the former CEO of Caroni failed to give out leases that were being prepared, deliberately so, in a bid to frustrate and thereby force ex-Caroni workers, to give up their lands to the Caroni Green Initiative
  4. The allegation that ex-Caroni workers were threatened that if they were unable to plant their land within a particular time frame, the state will seize and reclaim the land. Thus forcing them to rent their land to the State through the Caroni Green Initiative
  5. The allegation that the personal assistant to a Minister of government, with a failed or almost non-existent track record in agriculture, acquired 8 acres of Caroni Land through the Caroni Green Initiative.
  6. The Allegation that several contract farmers under the Caroni Green Initiative are also advisors to a particular Government Minister
  7. The allegation that without advertisement or criteria certain individuals have received over one hundred acres of Caroni Lands each, through the Caroni Green Initiative, while already having access to hundreds of acres of Caroni Land.
  8. The allegation that the government through Caroni(1975) ltd and now the new company is funding the Caroni Green as a private enterprise project and paying salaries ranging from $8000- $15000 per month, cost of motor vehicles and other miscellaneous expenses for the Caroni Green.
  9. The allegation that several individuals who are employed by Caroni (1975) Ltd, are being paid to work on a daily basis cultivating for the Caroni Green Initiative
  10. The allegation that the government will be supplying water to the Caroni Green Initiative, basically a private enterprise project for free, while ex-Caroni workers had to wait 18 months for a communal pond and in many cases irrigation as mandated by the Deyalsingh Judgment is almost non-existence for the ex-Caroni worker.
  11. The allegation that the ADB’S $50,000 unsecured loan afforded to small farmers and ex-Caroni workers for the development of their plots have been unceremoniously stopped while big contract farmers under the Caroni Green Initiative will be financed by the ADB.
  12. The allegation that the government is owing one big farmer who is currently occupying about 125 acres of Caroni land, over one million dollars for tractor work done in the Caroni Green Initiative, while the family of this individual has also acquired hugh amounts of Caroni Land through the Caroni Green Initiative.
  13. The allegation that NAMDEVCO has been mandated to purchase all of the produce of the Caroni Green Initiative, and sell this produce beneath the cost price if necessary in order to show the project working, even if this meant underselling and destroying the livelihood of the small farmers.
  14. The allegation that under the Caroni Green Initiative 500,000 pounds of sweet potato was bought from a contract farmer and simply stored at the Piarco Packing House. While several UWI graduates were paid $5000 dollars per month to peel this produce.
  15. The allegation that hundreds of thousands of dollars in chemicals are purchased every month for the Caroni Green Initiative, which was supposed to be organically produced crops.
  16. The question must be answered, how much money has been spent by the State on the Caroni Green Initiative in terms of labour, seedlings, planting material, chemicals, fencing, drainage etc.
  17. We are calling on The Prime Minister to address the fears of the small farmers and ex-Caroni workers who are seeing their livelihood eroded by decisions and policies designed to benefit a select few.
  18. We are calling on the Prime Minister to question her advisors and Ministers as to how could the government develop the lands for the Green Initiative and for private big farming contractors, but cannot develop the lands for the ex-Caroni workers as they were mandated to do by the Court.
  19. We are calling on the Prime Minister to ensure that before Caroni (1975) is closed down, every ex-Caroni worker receives a lease for their agricultural and residential lots.
  20. We are calling on the Prime Minister to immediately put a stop to the Caroni Green Initiative Project until a proper investigation is completed, all allegations of impropriety, nepotism and corruption is checked and the initiative is working to the benefit of the ex-Caroni worker.
We are calling to the Prime Minister to do what is right and just and what is fair, for the ex-Caroni workers. I am appealing to the Government, not to forget those upon whose backs you would have stood on, to be propelled into power. The worst sin is ingratitude and the worst ingratitude is the betrayal of the Ex-Caroni workers, those who would have supported you and fought with you and pounded the streets with you, those who form the backbone of the Government. These are the people who expected you to seek their interest. They are still waiting and begging and pleading to get what is legally due to them.
We are saying to the government do not allow yourself to be accused of reverse discrimination, help these ex-Caroni workers and their families now.

Yours sincerely
Nirvan Maharaj
(Attorney at Law)

President General

Friday, October 25, 2013


Mr. Nirvan Maharaj, Attorney at Law and President General of the All Trinidad General Workers’ Trade Union wishes to express his Union’s solidarity with the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) and highlight his serious concern and dismay over the dismissal of 68 employees of the National Petroleum Company Limited.

The Union is calling on the Company to immediately reinstate the workers and engage in discussion with the OWTU towards bringing this matter to a reasonable conclusion in a mutually beneficial way to all parties involved.

The All Trinidad Union will like to emphasize that whatever the circumstances of the dismissal and the arguments for and against the fact remains that 68 employees have been placed on the breadline in a callous and premeditated manner lacking in social conscience and good industrial relations practices. The Company must realize that the workers are not numbers and statistics but like the Management and Chairman of NP they are human beings with feelings, emotions, reasoning and logic.

It is the All Trinidad Union’s view that this matter can certainly be resolved with proper discussion, dialogue and diplomacy, while the workers are reinstated and allowed to earn a living in order to take care of their families and other pressing obligations.

Nirvan Maharaj
(Attorney at Law)
President General ATGWTU


Friday, September 13, 2013


Mr. Nirvan Maharaj, Attorney-at-Law, President General of the All Trinidad General Workers’ Trade Union is calling on the newly appointed Minister of Land and Marine Affairs Mr. Jairam Seemugal to cease and desist from making wild and unsubstantiated allegations concerning the distribution of the residential and two (2) acre Agricultural plots owed to the ex-Caroni workers.

The Union wishes to dispel the misconception and possibly the misinformation given to the Minister concerning the reasons for the delay in the distribution of the said leases. The goodly minister is well advised that in no way was the lapse in the distribution of leases the fault of the ex-caroni workers as he seemed to indicate at the last lease distribution ceremony on 11th September, 2013 at Naparima Bowl, San Fernando. 

Instead the reasons for the lack of distribution and preparation of leases falls squarely on the PNM government and the People’s Partnership government, both of whom breached the Deyalsingh Judgment and in the view of the Union continues to use and abuse the ex-caroni workers, treating them as mere political pawns. 
The Union wishes to inform the Minister that instead of allowing technocrats with their own agendas to assist in the writing of his speeches he should instead find the time to speak and hear from the ex-caroni workers themselves. In fact, if the Minister wishes the All Trinidad Union can provide him with the copies of the Deyalsingh Judgment of 2008 and the breaches that this government and past governments engaged in. The Union can also supply the Minister with a document outlining the failure of the state agencies such as Caroni (1975) Limited and EMBD in providing proper infrastructural develop such as drainage, irrigation, crossings, ponds as was supposed to be done in order to facilitate a smooth transition for ex-caroni workers after the closure of the sugar industry.

We would like to inform the minister there are over 4000 ex-caroni worker who are still waiting for leases both agricultural and residential. There are workers that would have paid many years ago for their leases and have not yet received same and others are even unaware of where the plots are, that they would have been allocated. The minister should be aware that a license to enter undeveloped lands does not afford a farmer the security of tenture or allow him to engage in a meaningful way in agriculture. In addition, the minister should also be informed by his advisors that there are 1500 ex-caroni workers still to be allocated agricultural plots and many who have been allocated, dislocated and still to be reallocated.

The Union is of the view the Minister should know better than to display the arrogance of standing on a platform and blame the ex-caroni workers for the disdain and contempt with which they have been treated by the governments past and present.

The Union is extremely shocked and appalled at the audacity and impunity of the Minister in making such a statement and is calling on him to immediately apologise to the thousands of ex-caroni workers and their families who are legally entitled to these plots and who have been deliberately frustrated by the inability of the state agencies and politicians lack of will, to settle an issue over ten years old.

The Minister must be aware that it is the blood, sweat and tears of these people whom he insulted in the worst way, that laid the foundation for the party to which he belong to be in power. Perhaps the minister could ask for guidance from his older colleagues and also remember Tobago and Chaguanas West.
The Union is quite willing to provide the Minister with any further information he may desire.

Nirvan Maharaj 
(Attorney at Law) 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Independence Greetings : 51st Anniversary

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-one years of independence. The message is exactly as last year’s because the issues and sentiment remains the same.

Fifty-one 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 delusional 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 Trinidad and Tobago 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-one 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,



Friday, July 5, 2013

PRESS RELEASE : July 5th March 2013

President General of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union Attorney-at- Law Nirvan Maharaj is advising the national community that the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union will not be taking part in the July 5th labour march.

Mr. Maharaj wishes to emphatically register his support for the idea behind the Joint Trade Union’s decision to March, as a symbolic gesture in calling upon the Government to implement the Workers Agenda adopted in 2010. He is also reiterating his call for a united labour movement and his support for the JTUM, in its efforts to address issues of national importance.

Mr. Maharaj is however asserting that as a matter of principle the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union will not at this point in time; take part in any March, in which officials of the Peoples National Movement (PNM) will be attending.

Mr. Maharaj is categorically stating that the callous and brutal shutdown of the Sugar Industry without any proper mechanisms in place to alleviate the subsequent hardship of thousands of persons dependant on the Industry and the treatment of the Ex-Caroni workers at the hands of the PNM was tantamount to an abuse of power and the blatant discrimination perpetuated on one segment of the population of our Nation.

Mr. Maharaj is also claiming that the appeal of the Deyalsingh judgment of 2007 by the then PNM regime, which ordered that each Ex-Caroni worker by 2008, be allotted the 2 acre agricultural plot and residential lot legally due to them through the VESEP package, was a violation of all moral and ethical principles and a heartless attempt by the PNM to deny the Ex-Caroni workers their legitimate expectation and just due. In fact because of the PNM and their agents in several state agencies such as EMBD, The Office of the Commissioner of State Lands and Caroni (1975) Ltd, Ex-Caroni workers had to wait 10 years and is still waiting for the process to completed, in order to receive their entitlement under the Court Order. The actions of the PNM have caused untold dismay, suffering, pain and frustration among the Ex-Caroni workers and cannot easily be forgiven

Mr. Maharaj is ardently declaring that as long as one Ex-Caroni Worker is still to receive a lease or be allocated a 2 acre plot or residential lot, the All Trinidad will never march hand in hand with the PNM, for to do so will be a betrayal of our former membership, their families and the thousands of people who suffered as a result of the actions of the PNM with regard to the sugar industry and the Deyalsingh judgment.

In fact according to Mr. Maharaj in addition to the brutal treatment of the Ex-Caroni workers, the PNM as a Political Party was probably the worst anti -working class entity this nation has ever seen. This can easily be borne out by the vicious brutalisation of workers in the Bus strike in 1967, by the PNM passing of the Industrial Stabilisation Act in March 1965, thereby banning protest and strikes among the working class and by the unleashing of the police, batons, bullets and teargas on workers in the march for bread, peace and justice in 1975.

Mr. Maharaj is of the view that the PNM joining the labour march is political tricky at its worst and a hypocrisy that knows no bounds. As such the All Trinidad In good conscience cannot and will not march with the PNM.

Press Coverage : TTNewsFlash :

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Report of Labour Day 2013

The workers denounced the Government for engaging in nepotism and corruption. President General of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union Nirvan Maharaj told the workers: “We are failing because we have forgotten the lessons of the past and while we forget our young men are dying in the killing fields of the northern hills, the central plains and the southern lands.”

Union Leaders warns workers.

Also adding his own warning was All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union (ATGWTU) president general Nirvan Maharaj, who cautioned workers to be wary of the “undermining of the essence of the Industrial Courts as a court of social justice, social conscience and the bastion of working class salvation.” 

“People seem to forget that the industrial court deals with justice equity and fair play and is not bound by legal technicalities of criminal and civil jurisprudence. We must not allow the rules and regulations and technicalities geared toward the civil and criminal courts to be blindly imported into the industrial courts without first analysing the burdens of costs and limits that will place the working class at an unfair advantage,” Maharaj said. 

“You must not forget the fight for better wages and a better working environment. You must not forget to fight for labour reform. It is become so ridiculous that while workers suffer MP’s are expected to be praised,” he said, and called for the unification of the labour movement to create a ‘labour lobby as powerful as any political party.” 

“There must be unity on the labour front, trade unions must unite and bond with a common cause. Don’t let petty differences take precedent over the good of the working class. Let’s create a labour lobby as powerful as many political parties. The trade unions have to change the psyche of people,” Maharaj added.

Fyzabad Speech : Labour Day 2013


Brothers and sisters of the Labour movement, on this glorious day, as you gather in your thousands, standing together united as one, all colours of the rainbow, I bring you greetings on behalf of the all Trinidad General Workers Trade Union and the National Trade Union Centre of Trinidad and Tobago.

On this day, this most symbolic day, when we pay homage to the heroes of the past and those who would have struggled to lay the foundation upon which we stand, we must ask ourselves one fundamental question, how is it that for the past 12 years, a land filled with natural resources and human resources and wealth, has so quickly descended into the realm of rape, murder, kidnapping, corruption, nepotism, and a spending frenzy beyond imagination.

The answer to that question brothers and sisters is very simple; we the leaders of civil society are failing those who have gone before us. We have allowed individual and organisational interest to take precedent over welfare of the working class people of this nation.

We are failing because we have forgotten the lessons of the past and while we forget; our young men are dying in the killing fields of the northern hills, the central plains and the southern lands of this nation.

While we forget our people are weeping for the sons and daughters, kidnapped, robbed, raped, murdered and brutalized.

Indeed those who have gone before must wonder at the paradox of an energy rich nation, with persons living below the poverty line, with young men bullying and killing each other in schools, where in a country as wealthy as ours, people are still being treated like second class citizens in our hospitals, where beds are a luxury and not a necessity.

Our past labour heroes must bend their heads in dismay at a land where all unions are supposed to be equal but some are more equal than others. Where some unions with assistance from fairy god fathers are settling with the CPO and getting their four percent adjustment and while others are struggling to even get a date for negotiations and the 4 percent adjustment seem a like a distant star.

In this same vein brothers and sisters allow me to briefly mention two labour issues that are of vital importance to the people of this nation and which left unchecked could eventually undermine the working class of this nation and everything we have fought for.

The first issue is that we must be very careful of the total legalisation of the industrial court and the undermining of the essence of the Industrial Court as a court of social justice, social conscience and as a bastion of working class salvation. Some people seem to forget that the Industrial Court deals with justice, equity and fair play and is not bounded by legal technicalities of criminal and civil jurisprudence. We must not allow rules and regulations and technicalities geared towards the civil and criminal courts to be blindly imported into the Industrial court without analysing the burdens of cost and limits and restrictions that this will place on the working class, and the unfair advantage this will give to the employer class whose resources are a million times more that an ordinary working class man.

This is the beginning of a dangerous precedent that we will have to deal with, but more will have to be said on that at a later time.

The second issue brothers and sisters of vital importance to the working class of this nation is in my humble view, the alleged subjective, frustrating, time consuming, arbitrary, disorganised, confused and muddled institution called the Registration, Recognition and Certification and board. I say this without fear and I say this without favour, because the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union and other Unions often face applications taking years to process, recognition being granted after companies have closed down.

And in the personal experience of the All Trinidad, where the Board on two occasions mandated that a certificate be issued for an institution where there are people working without a proper contract for over five years, where workers have been dismissed and others employed to take their place, a place where attempts were made to unilateral change the status of these workers, a place where workers were receiving compensation below the minimum wage and working without sick leave and casual leave. And it took months before the Certificate was eventually signed and delivered, the Certificate being held back through no fault of the Secretariat of the Board, but because of the deliberate or maybe inadvertent influence of certain individuals in authority. Again more will be said on this issue and the injustice perpetuated on these workers at the proper time

This my brothers and sisters is what I mean when I say we must not forget, 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, which you earned by your sweat and your toil, could be easily taken away from you through the disguise of legality and reform and nice promises.
You see Brothers and Sisters the greatest asset of any nation is the spirit of its people and the greatest danger to any nation is the breakdown of that spirit. Today we see many attempts being made to undermine and break the spirit of the labour movement, blatant attempts from patronage and handouts to outright divide and conquer.
An so I say to you and appeal to you and repeat for you as I did last November that YOU MUST NOT FORGET
You must not forget the struggle, for the struggle is not over, the struggle will always exist, as long as our society is a society based on rigid class stratification and as long as those who controlled the factors of production before 1838 still control them today, you the working class of this nation will always have to fight, and beg, and protest and demonstrate, for the rights that are due to you.

You must not forget that you have to fight for better wages, 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 must not forget that 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.

It has become so ridiculous, that while workers suffer, 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.

My Brothers and Sisters 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 the working class 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 honour those who have gone before us, and we must walk in their footsteps and 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 again 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. 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 nepotism, 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.

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

That they are public servants, and their duty and responsibility is to serve you the people, not you the people serving them. You must be aware that there are some of them who behave as though they are 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 they expect you the people to honour them. If fact the only real character qualification some of them have is the ability to tow the line and say how high.

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.

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 to you this very day that the trade union movement must charge itself with the responsibility of creating a new ideological perspective for the people of our beloved nation

We the 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.

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.

When I look at the issues facing this nation and at the issues facing the All Trinidad Union, such as the fact that 10 years after the shut down of the sugar industry, thousands of ex-Caroni workers are still fighting, and begging and pleading to get leases for their two acre plots and residential lots, that are legally due to them, in addition to numerous other problems such as lack of roads and irrigation and drainage facing these workers, when I think of the disdain and contempt with which they have been treated while Private Companies and Private individuals are having access to Caroni Lands, while the State is still breaching a Court Order with regard to the Caroni VESEP package, I feel a sense of bitterness at what is being done to these workers. But more will be said at this in due time.

When I think of the fact that the All Trinidad still has outstanding negotiations with the CPO, and is still to get the 4% salary adjustment that other Unions have gotten, that we had to fight to get a certificate from the recognition board even after we have been identified as the legitimate bargaining unit.

I have no choice but to reveal to the National Community that from July the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union will be establishing its Wednesday Night Forum to be held at the Rienzi Complex on a forth nightly basis in the first instance. In order to meet with individuals and organisations to discuss the National Issues of the day, suggest solutions and assist in charting a new direction for the people of Trinidad and Tobago. All are invited, not to be spoken to, but to be spoken with.

You see Brothers and Sisters 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. We must remember 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, those who were willing to face death in 1970 and those who faced tear gas, bullets and batons in 1975, in the March for bread, peace and justice.

We are their descendants and we must not let them down, we must take a stand for the future of our nation.

The time has come for 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.

Let us do our duty and conduct ourselves in such a manner that today this new journey based on unity, will be the dawn of a new age in the labour movement of Trinidad and Tobago. And to paraphrase the words of Winston Churchill, “If the labour movement should last for a thousand years, men will always say that this day, was it’s finest hour”

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,

Long live the Trade Union Movement

I thank you, may god bless

Nirvan Maharaj, President General, All Trinidad General Worker's Trade Union .

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Union Leaders : Labour Day : 19th June 2013

Union Leader March @ Labour Celebrations, June 19th 2013
Leaders of the Trade Unions march from Avocat Junction to Charlie King Junction as part of the Labour Day Celebrations in Fyzabad, June 19th 2013 .

ATGWTU Army : Labour Day : June 19th 2013


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Industrial Relations Seminar : Saturday 27th April 2013

Industrial Relations Seminar : Saturday 27th April 2013
The ATGWTU held an Industrial Relations Seminar @ Rienzi Complex , for all branch managers of the All Trinidad General Worker's Trade Union .