Time for Labour’s War Drums To Beat Out Songs of Glory

As the war drums of Labour Day  vibrates violently in home-town  Fyzabad, south Trinidad yesterday, this senior found himself asking himself:

  • How come the labour movement has been able to remain historically embedded in a mind-set that speaks to subservience, poverty and lament in the face of the great abundance of resources available over  decades of largesse received from employers?
  • How come workers have never been able to look at the flip side of slavery, and see the white man for the great lessons he made available to us about our greatest possibilities, and celebrating this notion for our own benefit?
  • Why have we failed to realize that in continuing to blame others for our situation, we are essentially giving up the wonderful opportunity and responsibility to pull ourselves out of the black lagoon of failure we were all thrown into and start a brand new positive story?

Any senior citizen listening to JTTUM (Joint Trinidad and Tobago United Labour Movement) President Ansel Roget speak at the Labour Day Rally yesterday (June 19), would have easily hearkened back to the early 1970s when Labour held similar rallies in Fyzabad.

This was at the height of the Black consciousness movement when Oil and Sugar joined forces under George Weekes and Basdeo Panday – combined with revolutionary elements such as soldiers who staged a mutiny and had to be restrained at Teteron.

It was against this background if feverish politicking, where old Labour hero Tubal Uriah Buzz Butler gave one of his Last Hurrah addresses in Fyzabad in 1973, the a Labour-indoctrinated government under the umbrella of the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) routed the People’s National Movement (PNM) government out of power by a devastating 33-3 win.

This would have been a most outstanding historic occasion as, possibly for the first time, “Those who labour’ held the reins of political power, albeit for a short time.
Forty nine years since 1973, and 72 years after the famous Butler Riots where a policeman was killed at Fyzabad, it’s very much the same khaki pants, to use a local expression.
Roget and his posse are still bleating out the same of complaints about:

  • How little the government is offering in wage increases,
  • The alleged corrupt practices by management resulting in exploitation of workers;  
  • A rising cost of living leading to workers surviving on starvation wages, and
  • The rights of workers to run the company.

These are the same toothless lions who:

  • Ran to dress up in designer clothes on being offered the multi million-dollar refinery by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and, after boasting about the sound financial support and business management  plans they had, collapsed into little fragments  after a few rounds of diligent enquiry about their project.
  • After prodding Eric Williams to buy our Shell and Texaco refineries and holdings, used their industrial muscle to run the companies into the ground so that today, the government cannot sustain Petrotrin as the  viable enterprise it should be, especially in light of high oil prices.
  • Hounded down Petrotrin star worker Malcolm Jones or his failure to bring to fruition  the company’s Gas to Liquids Plant project which would have been a game changer at that time in the oil industry,

Instead, Jones died of grief over the great betrayal he felt by workers whom he had worked so hard to serve to the hilt.

No wonder – despite always wanting it – they find themselves always eluded by success, as long as it’s about long term, constructive effort demanding self- discipline, sacrifice and looking beyond one’s narrow desires into the overarching vision where a people can surge into a powerful nation.

In this regard, we trust that all our leaders here can appreciate the noble intentions actualized by the British who worked as the United Kingdom, the Americans who pledged their lives to the United States of America.

With this important symbolic move in mind, we can make a healthy start by renaming this twin-island Caribbean democratic republic :The United States of Trinidad and Tobago.

Talk Done!

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