Ancel Roget addresses the Joint Trade Union Movement's motorcade at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

Workers across the nation have been placed on notice that a call to action is looming and they should ready themselves to respond so when the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) unveils its next course of action, they will be prepared to stand in solidarity.

Following Saturday’s national motorcade hosted by JTUM which began in San Fernando at 9 am and concluded at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain around 3.30 pm, JTUM President Ancel Roget told public and private sector employees that is the first of many such events they could expect to witness as 2021 progresses. He declined to reveal what JTUM’s next move would be as he said the element of surprise was one which they intended to use to their advantage.

Saying the motorcade which passed through areas such as San Fernando, Claxton Bay, Marabella, Chaguanas, Caroni, Curepe, San Juan and Port-of-Spain was a success, Roget added, “Throughout it all, along the route, we kept alerting the villagers and those listening to the plight and to the problems we are experiencing in the country.”

He explained it was also aimed at sensitising people about the efforts of the trade union movement to protect workers.

“We also wanted to enlist their support to have the type of unity to fight. It is one thing for the trade union leaders to call for action, but that action must involve the working people, people who are unemployed, and also those impacted by the mass retrenchment.”

Claiming thousands had been sent home in the past four years, Roget pointed to proposals to privatise the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) and the T&T Electricity Commission (T&TEC) as he said this would also result in thousands more being sent home.

He said if Government was not made to account, only 41 parliamentarians would remain in the State’s employ and this was not acceptable.

Roget urged workers to “stop standing on the sidelines and get involved in their own defence” to ensure a better tomorrow.

“Today, as we speak, things are not right in T&T and the trade union movement more than anyone else, we feel we have a responsibility not just to our members but especially to the downtrodden, the unemployed, and the man in the street who do not have a voice.”

Pointing to the decimation of communities across the country which he said was now feeding into criminal activities, Roget said if this inequity is allowed to continue crime would only worsen.

He said the only people who continue to benefit right now are the business class who owned groceries and other stores that “continued to drive their prices up, notwithstanding that working people who are losing their jobs, are the ones who can hardly make ends meet, and all of that is wrong.”

Roget said to have a better T&T, the trade union movement and the working class had to unite to fight to save jobs and preserve the standard of living.

He said as a Trinbagonian, being a supporter of the People’s National Movement (PNM) or the United National Congress (UNC) does not spare you high prices at the supermarkets, attacks from criminals or provide you with adequate services at a public health facility. It is that statement Roget wants citizens to consider as he calls on them to unite.

Trade unionists from the JTUM, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN) and the Public Services Association got into vehicles on Saturday at the Oilfields Workers Trade Union’s Paramount Building headquarters in San Fernando for the first mass trade union activity since COVID-19 reached T&T.Blaring horns and waving flags, they created a stir on their way to the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain, stressing to those who would listen, that employers and the Government were working against the working class.”When you go to the grocery, and you go to the cashier, the cashier does not ask you if you are a PNM or a UNC and give you a discount. Indeed, as prices change from day to day, whether you are PNM, UNC or whatever, you have to face increasing prices and increased inflation…”My point is, all of the issues; unemployment, the sending home of thousands of workers, it is UNC and PNM. Therefore, the political allegiance provides no protection for anybody under any one of those issues. Therefore, where the protection will come from is workers standing in their own defence,” Roget saidAlthough COVID-19 brought economic challenges, Roget said it was workers who ensured the country’s survival. If this is so, he asks why the Government and employers are placing workers’ issues on the back burner.