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Safeguarding workers’ values and interest



Editor: On Friday, May 1st ,2009, workers in SVG will be celebrating workers day under the theme: “Safeguarding Workers’ Values and Interest”. For those of us in the trade union movement who continued the struggle to ensure that the trade union movements survive, we have to be prepared to be crucified and lynched by those whose only worthwhile contribution to national development is character assassination, false allegations and idle chatter.{{more}}

Despite this, we need to seriously examine what is happening in the trade union movement. The movement today is plagued with ineffective leadership, whose only concern is to have their moment in the sun by focusing only on the struggle for a two or three per cent salary increase, hence, the wider and more fundamental problems facing workers are not addressed. Workers represented by a Union are given an hour dismissal notice, and this is greeted with a deafening silence from their union. Internal power struggle is about vanity and over-bloated egos, and the workers best interest is not served. Employers no longer adhere to collective agreements, millions of dollars of workers pensions are under threat during this period of financial crises and not a single union has made an attempt to meet with the NIS, Government and the Employers’ Federation to discuss this important issue.

The General Secretary and his cohorts, after destroying the solidarity of the Teachers’ Union, suddenly have no time for the union; reclassification is dead; the last collective agreement expired on December 7, 2007, and no new one is on the horizon. Teachers have no one to appeal to and teachers’ interest in their union is at an all time low. Workers either seek solutions for their problems from the political directorate, lawyers or talk show hosts, none of whom have the best solution for the myriad of problems facing workers.

The current Constitutional reform provides the trade union movement with an opportunity to concentrate their members’ interest on other issues rather than salaries.

The Unions’ Leaderships have not, but they need to define the roles, functions and appointments of members to the various Service Commissions. Pension protection and reform have to be high on their agenda, so, too, must be the collective agreement processes as well as the responsibilities of workers to their employers whether private or public.

In this time of high teenage pregnancies and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, the Unions must insist that the constitution should define a child as anyone under the age of eighteen (18) years the age of sexual consent also must be 18 years, in keeping with ILO recommendations. That, too, is a fight against poverty, so, too, must be the provision that every child in SVG is entitled to a free secondary education up to their 18th birthday.

I am appealing to all workers that if safeguarding pensions, job security, working conditions, productivity and the other issues listed above are important to you, then attend the rally on May 1, 2009, at Heritage Square. Workers’ interests and values are not about anyone but you the worker.

Deniston Douglas