According to the Industrial Relations Act, Chapter 88:01, every worker shall have the right to be a member of any trade union or any number of trade unions of his or her choice and the right not to be a member of any trade union or other organization of workers.
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.
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.