“[…] The late Gordon Draper, MP for Port of Spain North/St Ann’s West was given leave of absence for almost an entire Parliamentary term to pursue private business. MP Maxie Cuffie fell ill early in his Parliamentary term, was hospitalised for much of it, and suffered no loss of income.
“But wait! What about judges who ‘reserve judgement’ for lengthy periods while human beings rot in jail?
“[…] None of the above suffer economic inconvenience, regardless of their work ethic…”
The following Letter to the Editor on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s criticism of public servants who ‘abuse’ the anti-Covid-19 rotation policy to skip work altogether was submitted to Wired868 by Rae Samuel of Couva:
“Some workers are not bothering to show up and there was a general free for all. Those who did not show up would be deemed absent and would not get paid.”
These statements were attributed to the prime minister by the newspapers recently. And one can only think: ‘What a convenient memory loss; what historic amnesia!’
The late Gordon Draper, MP for Port of Spain North/St Ann’s West was given leave of absence for almost an entire Parliamentary term to pursue private business. MP Maxie Cuffie fell ill early in his Parliamentary term, was hospitalised for much of it, and suffered no loss of income.
But wait! What about judges who ‘reserve judgement’ for lengthy periods while human beings rot in jail?
Where is this anxiety for performance when ‘part heard matters’ to a large extent remain unheard while prisoners serve decades in Remand Yard? Do they face intimidation from the highest office holder?
Why does the prime minister not threaten the president re: proclamation of the Procurement Legislation bill?
None of the above suffer economic inconvenience, regardless of their work ethic. And recently the chief justice seems to have found out that the judiciary is in shambles—something the man in the street and the Law Association have been telling him for much of the last 18 months; and have been suggesting that he has made significant contributions to its collapse.
But let us go back to the public servant from whom ‘so much is being expected while so little is given’. He or she may be on contract; in some instances month to month and, in others with even longer cycles, for years. I do not know of anyone willing to go the extra mile under such conditions.
Some near retirement know that ‘ketch arse’ awaits them to collect their benefits. Retired public servants and teachers have to follow their pension files for fear it falls through the cracks.
Public sector wages have been effectively frozen since 2013. Did the said prime minister hear his Finance minister say that vacancies would not be filled in the public sector? That means all promotions, reclassifications and such upgrades are effectively on hold.
The only incentive a worker has under a capitalist system is wages. Is it not neo-slavery to demand more from him or her for less and less?
Let us remember that these ‘heartless slackers’ are on full pay since 2013. What is the rate of inflation since then? These ‘conscienceless workers’ have to deal with the crises brought on by the Covid pandemic, of which the home schooling situation is a perfect example.
Let us be clear. The attacks on the working class have been ongoing for the last five or six years. Whether it be the wage freeze policy, the closure of State companies, the steady retrenchment in both sectors, the attacks on the Industrial court, the removal of subsidies, the flight of foreign capital which leaves the worker holding an empty bag (/Mittal/OAS).
Covid is a further pretext to escalate the assault.
As workers, we can be our own best friends or worst enemies. The key to a successful counter attack is organisation. This begins with workers taking back control of their own unions as they fight the employer class.
Truth be told most of these leaders have sold out. They are either collaborators, weak, afraid of their own workers or the new breed in town: talk show hosts and panellists on forums. How they must love the situation Covid has created.
This situation will get worse before it gets better. We are in a heavily militarised society, on top of the already repressive legislation re: gatherings and protests which existed long before Covid-19.
But we must not ‘crystallise despair’, as Franz Fanon warns us. Workers have no choice but to organise to fight.
Remember 50 years ago the organised working class arose and took its destiny into its own hands. Why can’t we use this Golden Anniversary to re-kindle that spirit?