Union wants better compensation and protection for essential workers

2 Hrs AgoWorkers of the ANSA McAL group of companies as they gathered outside the Police Academy in St James to salute essential workers on April 9. – SUREASH CHOLAI

APPLAUDING all essential workers is fine, but it must move beyond just mere applause to better terms and conditions of employment.

In a statement issued on Saturday, president of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) Ancel Roget said workers who risk their lives must be adequately protected and compensated as covid19 pandemic has revealed, “they are the ones keeping us alive.”

“Before this pandemic, many in our society looked down on those workers whose hands were covered with blood, sweat, tears, grease, grime or dirt. They looked down on those workers who kept the country’s economic wheel turning daily. While it is very good to honour them during this pandemic let us not stop with the applause. Let us go beyond this crisis and from now on truly honour them by supporting JTUM’s consistent call to end precarious (contract) work,” the statement said.

Roget said all essential must be given permanent employment with proper terms and conditions as he called for an immediate end to short term and temporary contracts for that category of workers.

He also called for a revision of the Industrial Relations Act to remove all the obstacles that prevent those workers from joining a trade union.

“Improve the working conditions, particularly these essential workers. Enforce the Occupational Safety and Health Act to ensure that they are safe at work. We cannot afford to lose a single essential worker to injury or death.

“The essential workers that we honour deserve to know they have the full moral support of the entire country at all times. The country owes these workers an eternal debt in gratitude.”

On April 9, several people across the country took part in a national applause initiative to show gratitude to the frontline workers engaged in the fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Roget said JTUM stood with the rest of the country in thanking all essential workers who are keeping the country running during this pandemic.

Among them some members of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) which he leads.

“We recognise our own members and comrades, nurses, T&TEC emergency crews, TSTT and other telecommunication workers, technicians, plant operators and other workers at Power Gen, National Petroleum, the manufacturing sector and other energy-based companies, sanitation workers, maxi taxi drivers, postal workers, media workers, fire officers, prison officers, security officers and farmers.

“We also recognise those workers who belong to different trade unions and workers who are unionised, doctors, pharmacists and all the medical professions, WASA workers, gas station attendants, bus and taxi drivers, cleaners, police officers, soldiers and other security service members, fisherfolk, supermarket and market workers, delivery drivers and many others.”

“These workers continue to risk their lives while the rest of the country stays indoors so that we all can have a hope of survival.”

“Your service in this unprecedented crisis is immeasurable and for that, we thank you.”

Regional Job News, Trinidad Job News