Saturday, December 6, 2014

Press Conference : 6th December 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ex-Caroni workers invited to join new political party

By Carolyn Kissoon

Story Created: Oct 21, 2014 at 8:28 PM ECT

Story Updated: Oct 21, 2014 at 8:28 PM ECT
FORMER Caroni (1975) Ltd workers have been invited to join the country’s newest political party, the National Solidarity Assembly (NSA), to contest seats in the 2015 general election.

The NSA was formed by members of the All Trinidad General Workers Union (ATGWU) and is expected to be launched next month.

ATGWU president general Nirvan Maharaj said the political party was formed to encourage the Government to respond to issues affecting ex-Caroni workers.

He said screening would begin soon for 17 candidates to represent constituencies in the sugar belt.

Four former sugar workers have already expressed interest in four seats, including Pointe-a-Pierre, Naparima, Couva South and Couva North, said Maharaj.

“It is an attempt to get the Government to respond in a meaningful way to the issues of the ex-Caroni workers. We will be contesting 17 seats in the sugar belt areas, all in a bid to give ex-Caroni workers a choice. It is not a question of winning or losing, but there are 1,000 ex-Caroni workers living in Couva North and if I get 1,000 votes I will know that the ex-Caroni workers are saying continue the struggle on our behalf,” he said.

And if the votes do not favour the NSA, Maharaj said, he would reassess his position.

“If they don’t (support) I will know they are saying to let somebody else do so. We cannot be struggling indefinitely. We need to get a mandate and 2015 will be the best time to get that mandate,” he said.

Maharaj said his resolve was strengthened when the Government distributed 500 acres of land to former workers last week.

“I have no choice, 500 acres were given out last week and leases were given out without any infrastructure, development, without any roads, drainage, access irrigation. We have people who got leases and don’t know where the lands are located. The minister is saying people can go on a computer and see where their lands are located but that is different from people physically going on a site to see their lands. I need to get a logical conclusion,” he said.

Maharaj said he was stunned by the increasing support from ex-Caroni workers, small farmers and other groups.

And if his political party succeeds in claiming above 1,000 votes in the Couva district, Maharaj said, he would continue to articulate on behalf of the ex-workers, seeking legal options to ensure the issues are settled.

“But it can’t be that you vote Ramona Ramdial and Rudranath Indarsingh today and then come to me to take up a struggle on your behalf and then elections are called and you vote for them again and then come to me the next day to take up a struggle against the persons you vote for,” he said, referring to current Government MPs.

Maharaj said he was not too concerned about winning the election race, but making a statement to the former workers that the power lies in their hands.

“If I don’t get the support I will have to rethink what I am doing, because at the end of the day we can’t struggle in isolation for those we are struggling for. We have to reassess and reanalyse the situations,” he said.

Couva South MP and former All Trinidad General Workers Union (ATGWU) president general Rudy Indarsingh questioned the intent in the formation of a new political party to contest seats in the sugar belt.

And he dismissed claims that the People’s Partnership Government was not doing enough to resolve outstanding issues faced by former sugar workers.

Indarsingh was responding to statements made by Maharaj, who is expected to launch his new political party next month.

“If you form a political party, you form a political party to get into government or to achieve being in government. The composition of Parliament is 41 seats. When I was president of the ATGWU I left a union that lost 12,000 members between 2003 and 2010. Steering that union financially was a challenge. I doubt that the union has been able to increase its membership tenfold since closure of Caroni (1975) Ltd,” he said.

Indarsingh questioned whether Maharaj’s decision to launch NSA was sanctioned by the union’s general council and financial executive.

He recalled that the People’s National Movement (PNM) shut down Caroni and was about to pay out workers’ financial entitlements when the union intervened.

And through a legal battle, he said, the union was able to secure residential and agricultural land for workers.

Indarsingh said the PNM delivered 184 agricultural leases in its nine years in government, whereas the People’s Partnership distributed 4,000-plus agricultural leases and 1,984 residential leases.

He said the Kamla Persad-Bissessar-led Government also made it possible for the ex-Caroni workers to recover money they invested in Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) and Hindu Credit Union (HCU).

Indarsingh said the Government had never shut its doors to dialogue with ATGWU to speed up the process in matters regarding the former workers.

“I am not saying that there are not some challenges, but the Government has been very open and committed to the process of continuing dialogue and working with the union. It is a work in progress and the Government is committed.”

Indarsingh said the last meeting between Government ministers and ATGWU was held at the Ministry of Housing two months ago.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Blind Welfare workers begin ‘stage one’ of protest action.

By Port-of-Spain
Alexander Bruzual

Story Created: Aug 31, 2014 at 11:17 PM ECT
Story Updated: Aug 31, 2014 at 11:17 PM ECT

ON Friday night, 20 workers at the Blind Welfare Association North Office, located at the corner of Duke and Edward streets in Port of Spain, locked themselves inside the building for the weekend as “stage one” of their plans to protest the fact that more than 50 workers have not been paid for the past ten working days.

This was revealed yesterday by president general of the All Trinidad General Workers’ Trade Union, Nirvan Maharaj, in a brief interview with the Express.

“We have a situation right now where the Government has not paid these men and women, who are mostly daily paid, for the past ten working days and counting,” said Maharaj.

“These are men and women who have families, who have bills, mortgages, medical payments, children to support. They are just like everyone else, and yet there seems to be no consideration for them at all.

“So about 20 persons decided that they had enough and they want to commence protest actions until the situation is resolved. Part of that plan was to lock themselves in the compound and sleep there. The union and myself went to the compound today (Sunday) to show solidarity with them and to give them food and drink, and to make sure they were all doing okay,” Maharaj added.

He said he was calling on the Government to resolve the issue as soon as possible for the sake of all involved.

“If the matter is not resolved by Tuesday afternoon, then the union will have no choice but to lead a march to the Prime Minister’s office demanding that she intervene and pay these men and women. We are hoping that it does not come to that, but we are preparing for any eventuality at this point,” Maharaj said.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Press Release : the constitutional amendment bill.

23rd August 2014

The President General of the All Trinidad General Workers’ Trade Union Nirvan Maharaj wishes to express his preliminary point of view regarding the contents of the constitutional amendment bill.
This point of view is not cast in stone, but may be altered or even changed depending on the arguments for and against, if convincing enough, expressed by the Independent Senators in the Senatorial Debate to be held on the 26th August, 2014.

Though questions may arise as to the process used to bring this Bill to Parliament, an initial analysis of the contents of this Bill together with research on the system proposed seem to indicate that there is no substantive provision in this Bill that makes it worst than the “First past the post system” or violates or denies a citizen his democratic rights under the Constitution to exercise his right to vote or to support a political party of his choice.

In the absence of any empirical evidence to show that this Bill undermines any of our constitutional rights to universal adult suffrage and/or any of the elements of the rights enshrined in Part 1 (4) of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago then the opposition to the contents of this Bill seem to be based on mere speculation and assumption on what may or may not happen and wild and unsubstantiated allusions to the race bogey. I am yet to be convinced that this proposed system will lead to a disturbance of our electoral peace and tranquillity or increase substantially, voting along racial lines anymore than we have experienced in this nation since the nineteen sixties.

It must be noted that no Constitution should ever be unchangeable, since the historical dynamics of the past must mesh with current and contemporary scenarios to ensure that all citizens are afforded the opportunity to fair play, equality and justice before the institutions that govern the society. It must be that a Constitution is evolutionary as the society itself evolves. It cannot be that we are willing to accept that a minority vote can dictate to the will of the majority, but we are fearful of a system that will allow an individual entering the Lower House of Parliament to be elected by the majority of the votes cast. This is simply not logical.

In lieu of the Opposition ever supporting any form of Proportional Representation, in my view and until shown otherwise, this bill is a step in the right direction toward ensuring that at least in the realm of electoral politics, the view of the majority of those taking part, may hold sway over the specific interest of a minority. If the First Past the Post System is not working in the best of the Country, as is alleged by some and as evidenced by the attempt by the Patrick Manning regime to also introduce Constitutional change, and people are vehemently opposed to the Run Off System, then perhaps the time has come for Civil Society Organisations and other interest groups to demand that the PNM, UNC and other political interest groups implement some type of Proportional Representation to ensure that he who achieves the majority of votes win and that all interest are served. That may be a lot better than opposing for opposing sake and finding any avenue to say that your rights are being violated, to continue to do this, is disingenuous to the future of our nation.

I am of the view that any political party entering into elections should do so as an alternative to the incumbent and with the desire to win in order to do better. It is up to the individual political parties to capture the imagination of the public, become a major force and in so doing achieve the necessary votes to win an election whether through a first-past-the-post system or any other system. It is quite strange in my view and incomprehensible that a political party will go into election with a desire to lose. For example, if the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union were to form a political party to ensure the interest of the ex-Caroni workers and their families were being attended to and also to assist those who feel they have been unfairly done by, especially by the Partnership Government and the PNM. Then in the constituencies this Party should choose to contest, we will be going all out to be an alternative and to win, not lose, or be of nuisance value.

In any event, until such time as the views of the independent senators are expressed and I am convinced otherwise it is my view that most of the opposition levied against the content of this bill are simply opposing for opposing sake. The Jury is however out on the process used and whether a simple majority is all that was needed; this can only be tested in a Court of Law. However in lieu of Proportional Representation being achieved in the House perhaps this bill is a step in the right direction.

Yours sincerely,

Nirvan Maharaj
(Attorney at Law)
President General

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

PRESS RELEASE : Consultation Meeting

The All Trinidad General Worker's Trade Union is expanding upon it's civic duty with it's first Wednesday Night Public Consultation Meeting.

The Public and Media are cordially invited to Rienzi Complex on the 23rd July 2014 at 7:00 pm , where the primary item on the agenda will be the open forum with Ex-Caroni Worker's to hear and determine the way forward, to obtaining their complete VSEP packages as determined by the Deyalsingh Judgement.

These Wednesday Night Public Consultations will continue on regular basis, allowing members of the union & the general public to come vent their views and or concerns on any issue of national importance and seek any assistance from the ATGWTU as to the resolutions of their issues.

The ATGWTU understands the frustration many of our citizens face, in seeking an outlet and assistance and as such the ATGWTU is ready to offer any help in alleviating any of the issues, with use of their legal and administrative staff .

We hope that the citizens of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago will see the ATGWTU as a bright light in the sometimes the dark times we face, as we start the process with our Wednesday Night Public Consultation Meeting .

Nirvan Maharaj
President General

Friday, July 18, 2014

the March Begins . . .

Ex-Caroni workers give PM ultimatum

Story Created: Jul 18, 2014 at 9:01 PM ECT
Story Updated: Jul 18, 2014 at 9:01 PM ECT

Link :

 There is no greater injustice than what has been done against the former Caroni workers.
This was the unrelen­ting cry from ex-Caroni sugar workers who participated in a march through Port of Spain to the Prime Minister’s Office in St Clair yesterday.

Doularchan Chattergoon, one of the former su­gar workers, stated: “It has been almost 11 years since the closure of Caroni (1975) Ltd, and many of us are still waiting for our VSEP (vol­untary separation of employment) packages. Everyone else but the former sugar workers got what they were promised. It is time to demand what is ours.”

President general of the All Trinidad General Workers’ Trade Union (ATSGWTU) Nirvan Maharaj led the march to the Prime Minister’s Office, with the intention of presenting her with a letter entailing their grievances and demanding resolution of the situation.

He said their grievan­ces ranged from unfulfilled promises of agricultu­ral leases, granted leases with no clear land location, and cases of people being allocated lands, dislocated and yet to be reallocated.

“We are giving her ten days to respond. If there is none, there will be former Caroni workers converging in front of her office every single day with placards protesting till we get a response. If this Government cannot take care of us, then maybe the time has come to create a new machinery to take care of ourselves,” Maharaj said.

The crowd was in loud agreement it had been too long and the time had come for all former sugar workers to collectively take a stand.

This Ex Caroni Worker . .

This Ex-Caroni Worker was DETERMINE to show the Prime Minister . . .

Photo Album of the March on Port-of-Spain

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mobilization for "March to Port-of-Spain"

Mobilization in California, Couva

Ex Caroni workers to march in Port-of-Spain

Link :,197591.html

By LAUREL V WILLIAMS Monday, July 14 2014

HUNDREDS of ex-Caroni (1975) Limited workers are expected to march into Port-of-Spain on Friday following which they intend to deliver a letter to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar demanding that she address outstanding issues relating to the closure of the company.

President of the Sugar Boilers Association (SBA) and co-ordinator of the Ex-Caroni Workers Association, Rakeeb Mohammed, told Newsday that upon delivering the letter, they are giving her 10 days to respond.

Failure to respond, he added, would result in daily protest action in Port-of-Spain. “We are expecting more than 1,000 people to attend on Friday from 10 am at the Queen’s Park Savannah. We will be walking from the Savannah to the Diplomatic Centre to deliver the letter. We are giving her a 10-day deadline to respond to us. If no response, after that, we will intensify our protests on a daily basis in Port-of-Spain,” Mohammed explained.

The Diplomatic Centre located at La Fantasie Road at St Ann’s is on the same compound of the Prime Minister’s official residence. The march is a collaboration among members of the SBA, the Ex Caroni Workers Association and the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union (ATGWTU). Mohammed noted that the letter outlines the outstanding issues for the past 11 years of the now defunct Caroni (1975) Limited in which a promised package to workers has not been completed.

He noted that as part of the Voluntary Separation Employment Programme (VSEP) package, Caroni workers were each promised a two acre plot of agriculture land plus a residential lot. “We are demanding that the Prime Minister take immediate action.

Up to today only about 1,900 people received residential plots and about 2,300 received the agricultural plots. They received these leases but with no infrastructural work in place for the agriculture,” Mohammed charged.

He further charged that most of the residential plots given had no supply of electricity, water and sewer. Mohammed explained that the ex-Caroni workers are getting ‘real trouble’ accessing water and electricity. In addition, some recipients of agricultural leases three years ago still do not know where the plots are.

“In 2007/8, a High Court judgement noted that the government of the day should give each Caroni worker a residential plot with all infrastructural works plus a two acre agricultural plot with all infrastructural work,” Mohammed said. This ruling, Mohammed recalled, was appealed by the then ruling Peoples’ National Movement (PNM) government. Mohammed added: “But when the People’s Partnership government took office in 2010, the Prime Minister withdrew that appeal and promised that within 30 days the ex Caroni workers would have been relieved. More than four years have passed and not even 20 percent of the ex-Caroni workers have received their land.” More than 5,000 ex Caroni workers are affected, Mohammed said adding that Government failed to give them the second part of the package.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Labour Day : June 19th 2014

Members of the ATGWTU March from Avocat Junction to Charlie King Junction 
in remembrance of the Worker's Struggle of 1937

We March Because We Remember !

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Public March on the 23/05/14

The President General of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union Mr. Nirvan Maharaj (Attorney-at Law) wishes to reiterate to the national community that though we support the issues articulated by the Joint Trade Union Movement such as the implementation of the workers agenda and labour reform we will not be taking part in the march on Friday the 23rd day of May, 2014

  1. The All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union will not take part in any March in which the People National Movement (P.N.M) is involved.

  1. The People National Movement (P.N.M) shut down the Sugar Industry.

  1. The People National Movement (P.N.M) refused and or neglected to implement the provisions of the Voluntary Separation Employment Programme (VSEP) Package in regards to lands for the Ex-Caroni workers.

  1. The People National Movement (P.N.M) appealed the “Deyalsingh Judgement of 2007” which mandated that Ex-Caroni workers were to be given 2 Acres plots and residential lots.

  1. The People National Movement (P.N.M) appealed the High Court Judgement thereby denying the Ex-Caroni workers their legitimate expectation, the P.N.M by its actions against the Ex- Caroni workers have created pain, hardship, misery and frustration among the Ex-Caroni workers who have been waiting for more than 10 years for their legal entitlement
  1. In addition it is in our view that the People National Movement (P.N.M) is perhaps the most anti labour organisation this country has ever seen as defined by its actions in :

  • Brutalizing workers in the bus workers strike of 1966
  • The unleashing of tear gas, bullets and batons and the beating and brutalization of workers during the march for bread, peace and justice in 1975 (Bloody Tuesday).

A large percentage of who were the Caroni workers who were the fore front or the march.

  1. The People National Movement (P.N.M) implementation of the industrialization Act which denied workers the right to protest and strike.

  1. It is the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union view that to march with the P.N.M will be a betrayal of those who would have given their blood, sweat and tears in fighting for the rights of the working class in years gone by, and as a matter of principle we will therefore not take part in the march.

Yours Sincerely,


Nirvan Maharaj
President General 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

President General Nirvan Maharaj Listens to Contractors .

President General Nirvan Maharaj Listens to Contractors .

ATGWTU, the OWTU and MSJ have joined the contractors' meeting at Felicity.  Independent Liberal Party (ILP) Political Leader Jack Warner met on Wednesday night with contractors of the URP Agriculture Now Programme who are having difficulty in being paid for work done for the government during the height of the Chaguanas West and Local Government Elections.

The meeting is scheduled for 7pm (Wednesday, February 26, 2014) at the Felicity Community Centre, Maha Sabha Street, Felicity, adjacent to the Invaders Recreation Ground. Other stakeholders are also invited to attend the meeting.

The contractors had held a peaceful demonstration at the Invaders Ground on Sunday morning 23rd February to protest government's refusal thus far to pay them.

Fifty-nine contractors are owed a total of $116 million for 289 infrastructure projects that included flood mitigation works, access road development and excavation of irrigation ponds between June and September 2013.

Over the past several months the contractors have been given a run around for their money by the Ministry of Works, Ministry of Food Production and Office of the Prime Minister.

Mr Warner, who met briefly with the contractors (Sunday) during the demonstration, has been asked to intervene in the matter.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Over 4,000 ex-Caroni worker still to get land leases

Link :

By By Sue-Ann Wayow

Story Created: Feb 8, 2014 at 8:47 PM ECT
Story Updated: Feb 8, 2014 at 8:47 PM ECT

MORE than ten years after the closure of Caroni (1975) Ltd, more than 4,000 ex-Caroni workers are still to receive compensation from the Government.

President general of the All Trinidad General Workers’ Trade Union Nirvan Maharaj said yesterday 4,885 people were still to receive land leases.

Maharaj was speaking at a public forum on National Governance Crisis at Paraiso Events Hall, Claxton Bay yesterday.

He said those who received lands faced infrastructural problems, issues with electricity and water and many who were given land had no idea where that land was located.

Last month, ex-workers protested outside Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar office in St Clair, Port of Spain demanding cash and lands.

President General Speaks at the Forum on National Governance Crisis .