Monday, December 12, 2005
WORKERS WANT ACTION NOW IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Trade union members, workers, distraught family members and other supporters took to the streets of Port-of-Spain in the hundreds to demonstrate their desire for the implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
Dubbed the International Human Rights Day March, the event actually took place a day shy of the commemorative date and was organized by the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) and the National Union of Federated and Government Workers (NUFGW).
The marchers warned there will be a general strike if the legislation is not passed.
Seventeen persons have died this year while they were on the job in the small island nation.
Victim Sanjeev Rampersad’s father, Horace Rampersad, told the News, "They have forgotten Sanjeev Rampersad."
Sanjeev was a tally clerk at the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago who was killed on duty by a crane that cut him in half. Sanjeev left a six-month-old daughter, Zephra, at the time of the accident. Horace said his family has not been compensated for the accident to date.
"No one came to enquire of my family or his daughter. I came out here to show support for other workers. Life is precious," the elder Rampersad said.
Cosmos Brewster, father of Wayne Caldera who was killed in an explosion aboard the MV Tradewinds Sunrise on June 22, was a vocal participant at the march. Brewster said, "I am hoping that the Government will pass the act. Yes my son is gone, but I hope it will assist the other workers."
Harry Hamlett, father of Anthony Hamlett, who also died on the MV Tradewinds Sunrise, said, "I am hoping the Government will implement the act and protect other families. I am hoping there will not be any more accidents. And safety measures will be put in place."
Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union president Michael Annisette stated: "We are hoping that the Government will heed the call of the working masses without delay and discuss the changes after."
National Union of Government and Federated Workers president Robert Giuseppi noted, "We are hoping for something positive. The march will highlight our convictions and make it clear what is more beneficial in the future for workers with protection." Giuseppi demanded that Labor Minister Danny Montano "either bring in the OSHA bill or get out".
Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union president Vincent Cabrera said, "It is a struggle to have it implemented and we are giving a warning to continue on a program. I will float the idea of a one-day work stoppage in the country for us to be united."
All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union president, Rudy Indarsingh, noted that, "We are fulfilling our responsibility to put pressure on the Government. It is very disturbing that a piece of legislation that has gained the approval of both houses of parliament and the country (and) that has been assented to by the President of the country has not been implemented. It shows that this government is prepared to break the law." Sources: Trinidad and Tobago News, Trinidad and Tobago Express