Watson Duke

(flashback)GAVE DEADLINE: Public Services Association president Watson Duke yesterday.

THREE trade unions say they are supporting the call on workers by Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke to stay home today while the leader of another said, “you touch one, you touch all.”

The Express again reached out to unions yesterday following the call by Duke on all workers to stay home today as a show of solidarity with Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) workers.

Government has not spoken specifically of retrenchment at the utility but Public Utilities Minis­ter Marvin Gonzales last week noted that a Cabinet sub-committee report described WASA’s management structure as “top-heavy”.

WASA currently has 426 managers and 4,803 employees.

Duke said on Saturday that the Government was trying to weaken families, accusing it of destroying “working men with families, leaving them fearful”.

He said he and other union leaders met earlier and declared that Tuesday was a day of solidarity.

Among the first to respond on Sunday was leader of the Seamen and Waterfront Workers’ Trade Union (SWWTU), Michael Annisette, who said he’s not commenting on the call but stated that a “fundamental rule” of unions globally is that they support each other in their respective causes and his union will be no different.

“You touch one, you touch all,” he said.

He also fired back at criticism of unions and their members being involved in business.

“Trade unions have always been involved in business and this was supported by Trinidad and Tobago’s first Prime Minister, Dr Eric Williams, but there are people that feel that business must not be extended to certain kinds of people,” he said.

Bad faith

Ozzi Warwick, education officer at the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), said yesterday “the OWTU stands in solidarity with the public service and all public sector workers who are currently under attack”.

Communication Workers Union’s (CWU) General Secretary Clyde Elder said they too are in support of Duke’s call.

“We have been on record to support all calls for organised labour who are affected anywhere,” he said.

“What we are saying is that what Government intends to do with WASA is no different from what they did at Petrotrin and workers in these uncertain, critical and difficult times will be placed on the breadline,” he said.

“We are not in support of that. We support all workers against all adversities by this wicked PNM (People’s National Movement) government,” he added.

General Secretary of the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU), Trevor Johnson, said they too support the PSA.

He added it appears that, “a decision has been taken by Government to not treat in good faith with trade unions representing workers in the public/state sector as is required by the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act and the principles and practices of good industrial relations.”