The trade union march through the streets of Port-of-Spain on Friday, has gotten under the skin of the Prime Minister.
Ancel Roget is calling for a meeting with the Prime Minister within the next two weeks, otherwise all hell will break loose.
Well, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley responded on Saturday with a press statement. No mention of any meeting in the near future, but he sent a clear message to the trade union movement to work together with the Government to improve the quality of life in Trinidad and Tobago.
So the battle lines are drawn as Roget wants no more talk.
The following is the statement:
“Far from the views expressed by some voices in the Labour Movement, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is not unmindful of the stresses and strains exerted on the national population, especially those who face inadequate income earnings or who encounter the prospect of reduction in employment opportunities.
It is, by now, common knowledge that these unfortunate circumstances are largely the effects and results of our country’s loss of very significant oil and gas revenues which the market no longer afford us at this time and until such time as we can make alternative arrangements for increased revenue growth or the market situation is reversed we will be required to act responsibly and try to do more with less than we have been accustomed to.
It is against this background that the Government has been resolute in trying to maintain, as far as we are able to, employment levels in the public sector and to keep a large social support programme in place, funded from the severely depleted revenues.
This Government acknowledges and respects the Labour Movement as it steadfastly seeks to highlight the plight of workers and the unemployed under the current difficult circumstances. It is against this background and with this commitment to all workers and the wider national community that very early in the life of this administration, the Government took immediate steps to open the door to a collaborative platform of discussion and dialogue between Government, Labour and the Business Sector.
This Tripartite, civil approach through the genuine efforts of this body, should provide the most meaningful forum to address the myriad challenges which ALL parties must face as we seek to overcome and survive the current economic crisis to which we have been exposed since 2015 and which is very likely to remain a factor in our circumstances well into the medium term.
The Government, with a wider responsibility for the entire population, would hope that the workers representatives would acknowledge the reality and outcomes of our straitened circumstances and return to the Tripartite approach enabled by the Government, rather than rely on threats, bombast, finger pointing and insults, since these invectives would do little to assist us in treating with the harsh realities of our current circumstances as a nation in the midst of an economic downturn which is driven largely by our location in external markets beyond our control.
The Government is confident that if we air and address the difficulties together so that the burden is equitably shared by all, we would give ourselves the best chance to overcome the pressures and build the bright future that we all want for ourselves and as well as all others in the nation of Trinidad and Tobago which we so love, in good times and in periods of hardship.