Home / Live Wire / Soca stars uncover indentured labour racket

Soca stars uncover indentured labour racket

Trinidad and Tobago soca stars Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez and Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez might have executed a daring daylight escape from indentured servitude yesterday, right in the land of their birth.

Photo: Soca star Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez.
Photo: Soca star Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez.

Locals might have heard of the alleged labour racket by another name. Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF) chairman William Munro prefers to refer to it as the “International Soca Monarch.”

Bunji and Fay Ann signed up to work at the 2013 International Soca Monarch show but were reportedly stunned by some of the clauses in the competition, which, according to the Trinidad Express, insists that winners must: give 5 percent of their earnings to the CPF, defend their titles next year or pay the CPF 90 per cent of the prize money and attend the prize distribution ceremony whether it is in Trinidad and Tobago or abroad.

Munro did not ask that the artistes deliver their first-born child to the CPF. But then there was nowhere else in the contract that he could cut an extra 10 percent for daycare.

Trinidad and Tobago ought to know that indentured servitude was, arguably, a high-bred form of slavery where debt, rather than chains, kept workers on the plantations.

Photo: Digicel CEO Niall Dorrian (second from right) congratulates Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF) executive chairman William Munro (second from left). Munro has possibly won every International Soca Monarch competition since 1993. (Courtesy SocaMonarch.net)
Photo: Digicel CEO Niall Dorrian (second from right) congratulates Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF) executive chairman William Munro (second from left).
Munro has possibly won every International Soca Monarch competition since 1993.
(Courtesy SocaMonarch.net)

Munro, according to reports, allows soca stars like Machel Montano to spend $50,000 out of every $1 million dollar pay out. Then, he pays himself an identical $50,000 fee although Mr Live Wire is fairly certain that he only sings at the bank.

The remaining $900,000 must be returned to the CPF or the artiste is contractually obliged to provide his labour to the organisation in 12 months.

Mr Live Wire cannot confirm that Lawrence Duprey will name Munro as his CEO if he ever regains control of CLICO or that Allan Stafford told fellow inmates he should have chosen the soca business and not cricket.

We cannot prove either that Kees Diefenthaller is working on a remix to his former winning tune: “I feel like; I just win 50,000 dollars…”

About Mr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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  1. Lasana Liburd

    There certainly isn’t much transparency in this arena.

  2. Sigh…corruption everywhere, where will it end… when will it end???

  3. My issue is not so much with the actual clauses but moreso with how they came into being, i.e. Without consultation with the key players viz a vie the artists. I understand Monroe’s position: patrons and the continuity of the show as a professional business product does require that persons should at least defend their title (barring extensive circumstances). Plus as a matter of respect they should also attend the prize giving ceremony (it is the largest prize money for the entore season bar none). Monroe should have found a way to reconcile these needs with the artists outside of these barbaric conditions. Sorry but I cannot defend the 5%!

  4. Well they say soca is big business….now I am wondering big business for whom? That is what one will call an onerous clause in contract law….it burdensome and difficult. But is it a term of the contract or did Munroe induce them into the contact with some false statement of fact? Hmmmmmmmmmm then he may have misrepresented his facts to the people. All this to say what? Be careful all of you artiste out there of the sharks in the tank. What they want is to eat you alive and to get wealth at any cost….even if the cost is you.

  5. Monroe is making mas with taxpayers money. There is no ethical justification for that. You can’t keep 90% of taxpayers money that what not assigned to you. The audacity and contempt for the people that this demonstrates is mind-boggling.

  6. Munro is arguably the most significant reason for the crab in a barrel issues pertaining to soca music…

  7. Are we saying that the organisation is not within its rights to include a clause within the contract to ensure some kind of securities for its continuation? This clause may seem rather stiff and to most people unreasonable, but this business proves more and more uncertain maybe the promoters are trying to ensure they can give a standardized product every year. My comments are intended to encourage discuss and is no way a cloud to defend any group of persons for or against.

    • Thomas, the beneficiaries of these clauses can surely justify them. I believe the justification lies in their bank accounts. It is good business for the CPF, once it can get away with it.
      The $1 million cash prize was initially a promise by the would-be government to the soca industry. A promoter, acting as the middle man, tells the artistes that 95 percent of that prize actually belongs to him and they must earn it by giving him assurances.
      Alarm bells ringing yet?

    • Thomas are you saying that the performing artiste are now also the defacto investors in the event and have a financial interest or responsibility in its continuity. Are you suggesting that it would be OK for FIFA to say to countries reaching the finals of the world cup, that they will only receive 10% of their fees and the remaining 90% is to ensure the next world cup comes off. I can easily see Jack Warner coming up with such a suggestion and even saying whose account the fees should remain in. Looks like they are cut from the same cloth. I have to agree that this is nothing more than modern day slavery. People taking advantage of others for personal gain. Who has control over these fees that remain in the coffers. What is Munroe’s cut from the event and where is his commitment to leave 90% of his cut to ensure continuity. What happens to these funds if for some reason the event does not come off in following years. I have heard Munroe threaten many times that he done with this business. Finally, i seem to recall Munroe negotiating and receiving prize monies from our treasury for the past couple years. Therefore these prize monies could not be part of the operating cost of the event. This looks even more like JW style, money intending for one person and ending up in the covers of another. So you have it all wrong. the financial responsibility to “ensure” the continuity of this event is entirely on the shoulders of the entrepreneurs and not with the artiste.

  8. Kudos to Bunji and Fay Ann for taking a stand. CPF & Munro need to be taken down a peg or two. If I hadn’t promised a CSer I was going to the semifinals, I wouldn’t be there on Sunday, and I’m still of two minds for the finals because it would be worthwhile to see SuperBlue compete, but then again….we should all protest the ridiculous clause and pressure CPF/Munro into removing it at once. It’s really a form of indentured labour!!

  9. It gives me great pleasure to see that some of our Soca artists are conscience of the corrupt ways of the TnT government, and that they are taking a stand against such exploitive behavior. Kudos to Bunji and Fay Ann.

  10. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Munro is a bloodsucker. Bunji and Fay Ann damn right.

  11. CPF really disgustingly shameless to have such a corrupt and exploitive contract. I guess no Soca Monarch for me this year.