Radhica De Silva
They started the march in the blazing sun but the rally ended with rain as the handful of labour leaders made good on their promise to commemorate Labour Day this year.
A total of 17 labour leaders from unions, which include the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, Contract and General Workers Trade Union, Communications Workers Union, T&T Unified Teachers Association, Postal Workers Trade Union, Industrial and General Workers Trade Union, Steel Workers Trade Union Estate Police Association and T&T Farmers Union participated in the celebrations.
Led by the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union president general Ancel Roget, the union leaders went to the grave of Tubal Urial Buzz Butler at 8.30 am where they laid wreaths on his grave at the Fyzabad Public cemetery.
They also paid tribute to several other Butlerites including Butler’s look-alike La Brea Charles who was killed by the police because he was mistaken for Butler in June 1937.
The last surviving Butlerite Soogrim Coolman, who is now 91, also visited the cemetery.
At the start of the historic march in Avocat, the various labour leaders brought brief messages as they attempted to galvanise the working class into standing up for working-class justice.
For the third year, political leader David Abdulah was allowed to speak on the labour platform.
He told supporters that he had been coming to Fyzabad for 44 years and much of the issues had remained the same. He pledged solidarity with the working class saying the political elites and successive governments did not want to change the system because it suited their interests.
Calling for the revolution of the mind, Abdulah said the struggles of the 1930’s must never be forgotten.
Also on the platform was the president of the T&T Farmers Union Shiraz Khan who is contesting the Chaguanas East seat as an independent candidate.
He asked the supporters for their support noting that when he becomes an MP, he will advance the workers’ cause.
Abdulah later told Guardian Media that Khan had spoken to the MSJ before taking the decision to contest the election as an independent candidate. He also said that the MSJ will not contest a seat in Chaguanas East.
Also taking the podium was president of the T&T Registered Nurses Association Idi Stuart who revealed that there will be a mass protest among nurses on July 1. Stuart said the Government should have opened up the country long ago as the last case of localised COVID-19 was two months ago.
“Anyone who knows about microbiology will know that there could never be any localised COVID-19 cases now. So when you meet the minister ask him what is the rationale for having all these restrictions,” Stuart said.
He noted that the Minister of Health has not consulted with the TTRNA on many issues.
“If he has consulted he would have prevented the massive demonstration that will take place on July 1. Every single nurse will be on the street from Queen’s Park Savannah to the Ministry of Health. Come out in your numbers as you have been doing in the past weeks,” Stuart said.