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Ancel Roget

The announcement by Finance Minister Colm Imbert that he had instructed the CPO to start all outstanding wage negotiations in January was nothing but a ruse to keep the trade union movement quiet.

This is the view of Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union president general Ancel Roget who said yesterday it is impossible for the Government to settle with two and three periods of collective bargaining with between 15 and 17 trade unions in the fiscal period.

He was speaking during yesterday’s virtual hosting of the annual People’s Sector Post-Budget Breakfast Forum, a collaborative venture between the OWTU and the Co-operative Credit Union League of Trinidad and Tobago.

He also noted no mention was made of the mechanism to deal with all of those outstanding negotiations, and questioned when they will be completed.

“The OWTU and the Joint Trade Union Movement, we are not fooled by that, because like the property tax issue, where all of these forms are sent out to ensure that a penalty is paid if property owners did not fill out those forms, no deadline dates for negotiations to conclude were mentioned.

“And therefore just to say that you’ve instructed the CPO to commence negotiations, it does not satisfy us in the trade union movement,” he said.

The OWTU leader also said they are also paying close attention to the lack of job creation measures.

“Is there going to be job creation in 2022 where we’re going to see a massive increase on the job market, a number of persons are going to be employed because of the initiative of the Government? The answer is no.

“There are no initiatives, no mention about job creation,” he said.

Calling some of the measures a lot of hodgepodge things in a projection that would be outside of the period, Roget said: “So we have a budget where we’re going to have increases in a specific period but initiatives that you’re promising would come on stream outside of the specific period. And so, we believe that once again a con job has been done on the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Property tax

Roget also took the Government to task over the property tax and declining oil and gas production.

“It was the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) that came out and said long beforehand that they’re coming to put additional burden on the population with increased electricity rates, increased water rates, increased fuel prices, and property tax.

“We would have called on the minister to defer the implementation of property tax. We made it clear that we’re not against paying property tax on the properties that citizens own. We’re not against that, but not at this time when the population is reeling under the pressure and strain coming out of a pandemic,” Roget said.

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