Can the Rowley-Roget ‘bromance’ be saved?

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Dr. Terrence Farrell is standing in the path of the “bromance” between Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and labour strongman Ancel Roget.

Farrell, head of Rowley’s Economic Advisory Board and free-speaking economist, recently took a jab at workers and their representatives.

“Everybody is saying to government ‘gimme, gimme, gimme’ in a society that functions like a crab in a barrel,” Farrell said in a public address.

Trinidad and Tobago is a land out handouts, he slammed, and associated this with CEPEP and URP.

That was too much for Roget to stomach.

It is “impossible for trade unions to work with (Farrell) and the issue of trust has been broken,” the trade unionist said in a statement over the weekend, showing that he was still nursing hurt over the statement made more than a week earlier.

Roget was already peeved at the absence of consultations between Roget’s government and the labour sector in spite of an August 26, 2015 memorandum of understanding (MOU).

In that MOU, Rowley’s People’s National Movement (PNM) and Roget’s Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) pledged to engage in “genuine consultation.”

But no sooner was Rowley elected Prime Minister, consultation seemingly became a bad word for his government.

There was no dialogue before presentation of the mid-year fiscal review, which left Roget peeved.

He noted that the MOU “dictates… that we would have meaningful, deep and wide consultation… but we did not have that.”

He trumped: “Our position is clear… We cannot support any measures that would be adverse to workers.”

He is upset over the loss of workers jobs, especially in the steel industry.

“The Government could have done more or seen to have done more in support of the workers of Arcelor Mittal,” he declared.

He also has specific plans the loss-making Petrotrin.

The increasing cost of living is another source of bother.

Roget and his team met Rowley last week, but the meeting did not yield much.

They are due to meet after the Prime Minister returns from his international sojourn.

The tension in relations between Rowley and Roget took place less than a year after the blossoming of their “bromance” to remove the Kamla Persad-Bissessar government.

“Bromance”, by the way, is an American slang that means “a close but non-sexual relationship between two men,” according to Wikipedia.

Less than a year ago the duo were the hot-shot tag team, with love darts flying in each other’s way about fulfilling the “workers’ agenda in a most comprehensive way.”

Persad-Bissessar was the common enemy, even as the then-besieged prime minister pleaded about her increasing the minimum wage twice, settling more than 90 labour pacts and easing the cost of living.

Roget gushed in mid-April 2015 that the “unimplemented workers’ agenda … has been incorporated in the PNM’s draft labour policy.”

But that has not saved workers jobs, nor fostered consultations nor averted re-imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on some 7,000 food items.

Roget’s sidekick David Abdulah has been caustic against Finance Minister Colm Imbert, charging him with “abject failure (and) lack of transparency and accountability.”

The stealth presence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) left Abdulah outraged.

Amid the breach of trust, can the government-labour marriage be saved?
Were the trade unionists fooled by a PNM politician whose only ambition was to wrest national power?

Did Roget forget why he campaigned against the PNM in 2010 and celebrated the party’s general election loss that year?

He told the 2010 Labour Day rally: “We are proud of our sustained campaign to remove the PNM.

“We said any government that does not seek the interest of the people who they were elected to represent will be removed.”

Has he now been left at the altar by a slick and crafty politician?

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